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Hydrogen evolution reaction activity of nickel phosphide is highly sensitive to electrolyte pH


Nickel phosphide (Ni2P) family of materials have become a hot subject in hydrogen evaluation reaction (HER) electrocatalyst research. Various studies reported their high activity, high stability, and high Faradic efficiency. Up to date, there have been no systematic studies regarding the influence of pH on the HER performance of Ni2P. Here we show that the pH of electrolytes can strongly influence the HER activity of Ni2P electrocatalysts. Tests in 19 electrolytes with pH ranging from 0.52 to 13.53 show that Ni2P is much more active in strong acidic and basic electrolytes. With the increase of pH, lower H+ concentration reduces the formation of adsorbed H atoms in the Volmer reaction, resulting in poorer activities. However, the high activity observed in the strong basic electrolytes is not the intrinsic property of Ni2P. We found that Ni oxides/hydroxides are formed in strong basic electrolytes under applied potentials, resulting in the improved activities. Further, the specific activity based on the electrochemically active surface area of recently reported Ni2P catalysts is not high and requires significant improvements for practical applications.

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Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 11 Jul 2017, accepted on 04 Sep 2017 and first published on 04 Sep 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7TA06000A
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    Hydrogen evolution reaction activity of nickel phosphide is highly sensitive to electrolyte pH

    Z. Zhou, W. Li, Y. Wang, H. E. Karahan, Y. Lei, Z. Chen, X. Chen, S. Zhai, X. Liao and Y. Chen, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7TA06000A

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