Ligand effect on the catalytic activity of porphyrin-protected gold clusters in the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction
The “ligand effect” can be used as a novel strategy for enhancing the catalytic properties of metal clusters. Herein, we report the ligand effect of porphyrin derivatives on gold clusters (AuCs, size <2 nm) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs, size >2 nm) in the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) at pH 6.7. The current density of porphyrin face-coordinated AuCs at −0.4 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) was 460% higher than that of phenylethanethiol-protected AuCs. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy indicated that the approach of porphyrin to the Au surface induced charge migration from the porphyrin to the Au core, leading to a shift in the 5d state of AuCs that resulted in enhanced HER activities. This ligand effect is pronounced in the cluster region due to the large surface-to-volume ratio. These results pave the way for enhancing catalytic activity of metal clusters using ligand design.