Facile synthesis of Ni/NiO nanocomposites: the effect of Ni content in NiO upon the oxygen evolution reaction within alkaline media†
We present the facile synthesis of Ni/NiO nanocomposites, via a solution combustion methodology, where the composition of metallic Ni within NiO is controlled by varying the annealing time, from 4 minutes up to 8 hours. The various Ni/NiO nanocomposites are studied via electrically wiring them upon screen-printed graphite macroelectrodes by physical deposition. Subsequently their electrochemical activity, towards the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), is assessed within (ultra-pure) alkaline media (1.0 M KOH). An optimal annealing time of 2 hours is found, which gives rise to an electrochemical oxidation potential (recorded at 10 mA cm−2) of 231 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl 1.46 vs. RHE). These values show the Ni/NiO nanocomposites to be significantly more electrocatalytic than a bare/unmodified SPE (460 mV vs. Ag/AgCl). A remarkable percentage increase (134%) in achievable current density is realised by the former over that of the latter. Tafel analysis and turn over frequency is reported with a likely underlying mechanism for the Ni/NiO nanocomposites towards the OER proposed. In the former case, Tafel analysis is overviewed for general multi-step overall electrochemical reaction processes, which can be used to assist other researchers in determining mechanistic information, such as electron transfer and rate determining steps, when exploring the OER. The optimal Ni/NiO nanocomposite exhibits promising stability at the potential of +231 mV, retaining near 100% of its achievable current density after 28 hours. Due to the facile and rapid fabrication methodology of the Ni/NiO nanocomposites, such an approach is ideally suited towards the mass production of highly active and stable electrocatalysts for application within the anodic catalyst layers of commercial alkaline electrolysers.