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Encapsulation of Fe nanoparticles into an N-doped carbon nanotube/nanosheet integrated hierarchical architecture as an efficient and ultrastable electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction

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Abstract

The exploration of cost-effective, highly efficient and robust electrocatalysts toward the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is of paramount significance for the advancement of future renewable energy conversion devices, and yet still remains a great challenge. Herein, we demonstrate a straightforward one-step pyrolysis strategy for the scalable synthesis of an iron–nitrogen–carbon hierarchically nanostructured catalyst, in which Fe-based nanoparticles are encapsulated in bamboo-like N-doped carbon nanotubes in situ rooted from porous N-doped carbon nanosheets (Fe@N–C NT/NSs). The delicate fabrication of such an 0D/1D/2D integrated hierarchical architecture with encased Fe species and open configuration renders the formed Fe@N–C NT/NSs with sufficient confined active sites, reduced charge transfer resistance, improved diffusion kinetics and outstanding mechanical strength. As such, compared with commercial Pt/C, the optimized Fe@N–C NT/NSs catalyst exhibits efficient ORR activity, superior durability and strong tolerance to methanol in KOH medium. More impressively, when assembled as a cathode catalyst in a microbial fuel cell, the Fe@N–C NT/NSs electrode displays significantly enhanced power density and output voltage in comparison with commercial Pt/C, holding great promise in practical energy conversion devices. What's more, the simple yet reliable synthesis strategy developed here may shed light on the future design of advanced high-efficiency hierarchical architectures for diverse electrochemical applications and beyond.

Graphical abstract: Encapsulation of Fe nanoparticles into an N-doped carbon nanotube/nanosheet integrated hierarchical architecture as an efficient and ultrastable electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
02 Apr 2020
Accepted
04 Jun 2020
First published
04 Jun 2020

Nanoscale, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

Encapsulation of Fe nanoparticles into an N-doped carbon nanotube/nanosheet integrated hierarchical architecture as an efficient and ultrastable electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction

X. Li, L. Ni, J. Zhou, L. Xu, C. Lu, G. Yang, W. Ding and W. Hou, Nanoscale, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/D0NR02618B

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