Architecture of CoNx single clusters on nanocarbon as excellent oxygen reduction catalysts with high-efficient atomic utilization
A new strategy to fabricate CoNx single cluster supported nanocarbon catalysts (C/P/2Co600) with enhanced atomic utilization towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is reported. N-Coordination protection and low-temperature pyrolysis are the two key factors for the formation of CoNx single clusters on nanocarbon supports. Morphological and structural identification confirmed the simultaneous anchoring of homo-dispersed CoNx single clusters and N-doping on the nanocarbon under relatively mild thermal treatment conditions. Expectedly, the obtained single cluster catalyst with a trace amount of metal atoms exhibited excellent ORR performance including a positive half-wave potential (0.846 V), a high mass activity (0.98 A mgCo−1, ampere per milligram of cobalt) and outstanding chemical durability after 8000 potential cycles. We believe that our findings provide a new route for the rational design of low-cost and highly active ORR catalytic materials.