Stepwise chemical oxidation to access ultrathin metal (oxy)-hydroxide nanosheets for the oxygen evolution reaction†
Incorporation of ultrathin nanosheets with dopants/defects shows great potential to enable metal (oxy)-hydroxide electrocatalysts with enhanced oxygen evolution reaction (OER) performance via the regulation of atomic structure and bonding arrangements. However, it remains challenging in synthesis especially for such dual control and at large scale. In this study, we present a stepwise chemical oxidation route, involving phase transition and reconstruction processes, to access ultrathin CoOOH nanosheets with a thickness of ca. 4 nm and abundant oxygen vacancies. Other transition metals were also doped into CoOOH nanosheets through this strategy. Among them, the optimized FeCoOOH nanosheets demonstrated an efficient OER activity with overpotential as low as 252 mV (current density: 10 mA cm−2) and excellent stability. A high and stable solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 10.5% was acquired when FeCoOOH nanosheets were used as the anode in a constructed water splitting device driven by solar energy. This study offers a noble and facile strategy for potentially scalable preparation of atom-modulated ultrathin metal (oxy)-hydroxide nanosheets, and also demonstrates the OER applications.