Advanced electrocatalysts based on two-dimensional transition metal hydroxides and their composites for alkaline oxygen reduction reaction
The electrocatalytic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is a crucial part in developing high-efficiency fuel cells and metal–air batteries, which have been cherished as clean and sustainable energy conversion devices/systems to meet the ever-increasing energy demand. ORR electrocatalysts currently employed in the cathodes of fuel cells and metal–air batteries are mainly based on high-cost and scarce noble metal elements. It is thus of great importance to develop cheap and earth-abundant ORR electrocatalysts. In this aspect, redox-active transition metal hydroxides, a class of multifunctional inorganic layered materials, have been proposed as prospective candidates on account of their abundance and high ORR activities. In this article, the preparation and structural evolution of transition metal hydroxides, in particular their exfoliation into two-dimensional (2D) nanosheets, as well as compositing/integrating with catalytic active and/or conductive components to overcome the insulating nature of hydroxides in alkaline ORR, are summarized. Recent advances have demonstrated that 2D transition metal hydroxides with carefully tuned compositions and elaborately designed nanoarchitectures can achieve both high activity and high pathway selectivity, as well as excellent stability comparable to those of commercial Pt/C electrocatalysts. To realize the dream of renewable electrochemical energy conversion, new strategies and insights into rational designing of 2D hydroxide-based nanostructures with further enhanced electrocatalytic performance are still to be vigorously pursued.