Fe, Co, and Ni ions promote the catalytic activity of amorphous molybdenum sulfide films for hydrogen evolution†
Molybdenum sulfide materials have been shown as promising non-precious catalysts for hydrogen evolution. This paper describes the study of the promotional effects of certain transition metal ions on the activity of amorphous MoS3 films. Ternary metal sulfide films, M–MoS3 (M = Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn), have been prepared by cyclic voltammetry of aqueous solutions containing MCl2 and (NH4)2[MoS4]. Whereas the Mn–, Cu–, and Zn–MoS3 films show similar or only slightly higher catalytic activity as the MoS3 film, the Fe–, Co–, and Ni–MoS3 films are significantly more active. The promotional effects of Fe, Co, and Ni ions exist under both acidic and neutral conditions, but the effects are more pronounced under neutral conditions. Up to a 12-fold increase in exchange current density and a 10-fold increase in the current density at an overpotential of 150 mV are observed at pH = 7. It is shown that Fe, Co, and Ni ions promote the growth of the MoS3 films, resulting a high surface area and a higher catalyst loading. These changes are the main contributors to the enhanced activity at pH = 0. However, at pH = 7, Fe, Co, and Ni ions appear to also increase the intrinsic activity of the MoS3 film.