Applications of ALD MnO to electrochemical water splitting†
Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is an attractive method to deposit uniform catalytic films onto high surface area electrodes. One interesting material for ALD synthesis is MnOx, a promising earth-abundant catalyst for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). It has previously been shown that catalysts beginning as MnO synthesized using ALD on smooth glassy carbon (s-GC) electrodes and Mn2O3 obtained upon annealing MnO on s-GC are active OER catalysts. Here, we use ALD to deposit MnO on high surface area GC (HSA-GC) substrates, forming an active catalyst on a geometric surface area basis. We then characterize three types of catalysts, HSA-GC MnO, s-GC MnO, and annealed MnO (Mn2O3), using cyclic voltammetry (CV), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and ex situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). We show that under OER conditions, all three catalysts oxidize to similar surface states with a mixture of Mn3+/Mn4+ and that MnOx surface area effects can account for the observed differences in the catalytic activity. We also demonstrate the need for a high surface area support for high OER activity on a geometric basis.