An earth-abundant bimetallic catalyst coated metallic nanowire grown electrode with platinum-like pH-universal hydrogen evolution activity at high current density†
A self-supported and flexible current collector solely made of earth-abundant elements, NiCo layered double hydroxide (LDH) wrapped around Cu nanowires (Cu-Ws) grown on top of commercially available Cu mesh (Cu-m), outperforms the benchmark 40 wt% Pt/C in catalyzing the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The Cu-m/Cu-W/NiCo-LDH cathode operates both in acidic and alkaline media exhibiting high turnover frequencies (TOF) at 30 mV (0.3 H2 s−1 in 1 M KOH and 0.32 H2 s−1 in 0.5 M H2SO4, respectively) and minimal overpotentials of 15 ± 6 mV in 1 M KOH and 27 ± 2 mV in 0.5 M H2SO4 at −10 mA cm−2. Cu-m/Cu-W/NiCo-LDH outperforms the activity of 40 wt% Pt/C that needs overpotentials of 22 and 18 mV in 1 M KOH and 0.5 M H2SO4, respectively. With a tremendous advantage over Pt/C in triggering proton reduction with fast kinetics, similar mass activity and pH-universality, the current collector demonstrates outstanding operational durability even at above −1 A cm−2. The high density of electronic states near the Fermi energy level of Cu-Ws is found to be a pivotal factor for efficient electron transfer to the NiCo-LDH catalyst. This class of self-supported electrodes is expected to trigger rapid progress in developing high performance energy conversion and storage devices.