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Issue 30, 2019
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Visualizing spatial potential and charge distribution in Ru/N-doped carbon electrocatalysts for superior hydrogen evolution reaction

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Abstract

Ruthenium (Ru) has recently emerged as a promising alternative to Pt for the electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). However, it remains a great challenge to design highly active and durable Ru-based electrocatalysts, and the intrinsic electrocatalytic mechanism is rarely studied in detail. Here a facile one-step pyrolysis strategy is reported to synthesize ultrafine Ru nanocrystals uniformly dispersed on N-doped carbon (Ru/NC) as electrocatalysts for the alkaline HER. The Ru/NC electrocatalysts exhibit a small overpotential of 17 mV at a current density of −10 mA cm−2 and a low Tafel slope of 32 mV dec−1 as well as excellent durability in 1 M KOH, outperforming commercial Pt/C. Density functional theory calculations indicate that a decreased H2O dissociation energy barrier and optimal Gibbs free energy for hydrogen adsorption can be achieved. Importantly, an off-axis electron holography is utilized for the first time to visualize electrostatic potential and charge distribution at the interfaces in Ru/NC, which may promote the charge transfer and facilitate hydrogen adsorption/desorption kinetics, resulting in superior HER performance. This work not only offers a simple and effective method for the synthesis of Ru-based HER electrocatalysts, but also provides indepth insights into the underlying mechanism toward the alkaline HER.

Graphical abstract: Visualizing spatial potential and charge distribution in Ru/N-doped carbon electrocatalysts for superior hydrogen evolution reaction

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
10 Jun 2019
Accepted
28 Jun 2019
First published
01 Jul 2019

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019,7, 18072-18080
Article type
Paper

Visualizing spatial potential and charge distribution in Ru/N-doped carbon electrocatalysts for superior hydrogen evolution reaction

J. Liu, G. Ding, J. Yu, X. Liu, X. Zhang, J. Guo, J. Zhang, W. Ren and R. Che, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, 7, 18072
DOI: 10.1039/C9TA06206H

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