Trends in activity for the oxygen evolution reaction on transition metal (M = Fe, Co, Ni) phosphide pre-catalysts†
Transition metal phosphides (TMPs) have recently emerged as a new class of pre-catalysts that can efficiently catalyze the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). However, how the OER activity of TMPs varies with the catalyst composition has not been systematically explored. Here, we report the alkaline OER electrolysis of a series of nanoparticulate phosphides containing different equimolar metal (M = Fe, Co, Ni) components. Notable trends in OER activity are observed, following the order of FeP < NiP < CoP < FeNiP < FeCoP < CoNiP < FeCoNiP, which indicate that the introduction of a secondary metal(s) to a mono-metallic TMP substantially boosts the OER performance. We ascribe the promotional effect to the enhanced oxidizing power of bi- and tri-metallic TMPs that can facilitate the formation of MOH and chemical adsorption of OH− groups, which are the rate-limiting steps for these catalysts according to our Tafel analysis. Remarkably, the tri-metallic FeCoNiP pre-catalyst exhibits exceptionally high apparent and intrinsic OER activities, requiring only 200 mV to deliver 10 mA cm−2 and showing a high turnover frequency (TOF) of ≥0.94 s−1 at the overpotential of 350 mV.