Operando diffuse reflectance UV-vis spectroelectrochemistry for investigating oxygen evolution electrocatalysts†
The characterization of the active structure of water-splitting catalysts is crucial to evolve to a sustainable energy future based on hydrogen. Such information can only be obtained by operando methods. We present a diffuse reflectance UV-vis (DRUV) spectroelectrochemical study that allows tracking the changes of solid oxygen evolution catalysts under working conditions. The versatility of our approach is demonstrated on two cobalt-containing catalysts, Zn0.35Co0.65O and CoAl2O4. The changes the catalysts undergo during the oxygen evolution reaction can be tracked by probing the electronic structure using UV-vis spectroscopy. These findings are compared to ex situ analyses, which support the assignments of the structures stabilized under different potentials. Thus, structure–activity correlations can be proposed, and deeper insights into the catalytically active structures can be obtained.