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Simultaneous hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions using free-standing nitrogen-doped-carbon–Co/CoOx nanofiber electrodes decorated with palladium nanoparticles

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Abstract

Designing efficient electrode materials for electrochemical water splitting is the most critical challenge for next-generation hydrogen fuel production. This study describes the development of free-standing nitrogen-doped carbon nanofiber (N-CNF) electrodes that incorporated cobalt/cobalt oxide (Co/CoOx) nanoparticles (NPs) and were decorated with palladium NPs (Pd NPs). These free-standing electrodes displayed high electrocatalytic activity during electrochemical water splitting, and were fabricated in three steps: (i) solution electrospinning of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/cobalt acetate nanofiber mats; (ii) PAN/cobalt acetate nanofiber mat peroxidation and stabilization in air atmosphere followed by pyrolysis (carbonation) in nitrogen atmosphere; and (iii) decoration of the electrode surface with 5 and 10 nm Pd NPs by controlled atomic layer deposition (ALD) (100 and 200 cycles, respectively). The N-CNF–Co/CoOx–Pd electrode performance was tested in simultaneous hydrogen/oxygen evolution reactions (HER/OER) with an alkaline electrolyte solution (1 M KOH). The electrodes were as electroactive as Pt and IrO2 (reference electrodes) for overall electrochemical water splitting. The most efficient electrode displayed very interesting overpotential (100 mV and 160 mV @ j = 10 mA cm−2 for HER and OER, respectively), Tafel slope (33 and 113 mV dec−1), and exchange current density (1.15 and 22.4 mA cm−2) values. Interestingly, electrodes with the smallest Pd NP size (5 nm/100 ALD cycles) showed higher electrocatalytic activity for HER and OER than electrodes coated with bigger particles (10 nm/200 ALD cycles) and the reference Pt electrode. The effect of Co/CoOx NP encapsulation in the graphitic layers of N-CNFs and coating with Pd NPs on the electrode electrocatalytic activity are discussed in detail.

Graphical abstract: Simultaneous hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions using free-standing nitrogen-doped-carbon–Co/CoOx nanofiber electrodes decorated with palladium nanoparticles

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
03 May 2021
Accepted
14 Jun 2021
First published
15 Jun 2021

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2021, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Simultaneous hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions using free-standing nitrogen-doped-carbon–Co/CoOx nanofiber electrodes decorated with palladium nanoparticles

A. Barhoum, H. H. El-Maghrabi, A. A. Nada, S. Sayegh, S. Roualdes, A. Renard, I. Iatsunskyi, E. Coy and M. Bechelany, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2021, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D1TA03704H

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