Atomically-dispersed NiN4–Cl active sites with axial Ni–Cl coordination for accelerating electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution†
Single-atom catalysts (SACs) regulated by heteroatoms have displayed great potential as electrocatalysts for highly efficient hydrogen evolution reaction (HER); however, the controllable synthesis of an axial coordination structure of SACs to achieve robust HER performance remains a great challenge. Herein, we have proposed a doping-adsorption-pyrolysis strategy to construct NiN4–Cl active sites with axial Cl coordination for accelerating electrocatalytic HER. The obtained NiN4–Cl SAs/NC catalyst exhibits superior HER activity with low over-potential, small Tafel slope, high turnover frequency, and long-term stability. Density functional theory calculation reveals that the excellent HER performance of NiN4–Cl SAs/NC originates from the axial Cl-coordination-induced electronic localization enhancement, which is beneficial for the adsorption and activation of H* intermediate, thus accelerating the HER process. This work opens a new opportunity for rational design and construction of high-performance SAC catalysts by axial coordination strategy for electrocatalytic application.