Correlating the hydrogen evolution reaction activity in alkaline electrolytes with the hydrogen binding energy on monometallic surfaces†
The slow reaction kinetics of the hydrogen evolution and oxidation reactions (HER/HOR) on platinum in alkaline electrolytes hinders the development of alkaline electrolysers, solar hydrogen cells and alkaline fuel cells. A fundamental understanding of the exchange current density of the HER/HOR in alkaline media is critical for the search and design of highly active electrocatalysts. By studying the HER on a series of monometallic surfaces, we demonstrate that the HER exchange current density in alkaline solutions can be correlated with the calculated hydrogen binding energy (HBE) on the metal surfaces via a volcano type of relationship. The HER activity varies by several orders of magnitude from Pt at the peak of the plot to W and Au located on the bottom of each side of the plot, similar to the observation in acids. Such a correlation suggests that the HBE can be used as a descriptor for identifying electrocatalysts for HER/HOR in alkaline media, and that the HER exchange current density can be tuned by modifying the surface chemical properties.