Investigation of mixed-metal (oxy)fluorides as a new class of water oxidation electrocatalysts†
The development of electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is one of the principal challenges in the area of renewable energy research. Within this context, mixed-metal oxides have recently emerged as the highest performing OER catalysts. Their structural and compositional modification to further boost their activity is crucial to the wide-spread use of electrolysis technologies. In this work, we investigated a series of mixed-metal F-containing materials as OER catalysts to probe possible benefits of the high electronegativity of fluoride ions. We found that crystalline hydrated fluorides, CoFe2F8(H2O)2 and NiFe2F8(H2O)2, and amorphous oxyfluorides, NiFe2F4.4O1.8 and CoFe2F6.6O0.7, feature excellent activity (overpotential for 10 mA cm−2 as low as 270 mV) and stability (extended performance for >250 hours with ∼40 mV activity loss) for the OER in alkaline electrolyte. Subsequent electroanalytical and spectroscopic characterization hinted that the electronic structure modulation conferred by the fluoride ions aided their reactivity. Finally, the best catalyst of the set, NiFe2F4.4O1.8, was applied as anode in an electrolyzer comprised solely of earth-abundant materials, which carried out overall water splitting at 1.65 V at 10 mA cm−2.