Amorphous Nickel-Based Thin Film As a Janus Electrocatalyst for Water Splitting

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National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, People’s Republic of China
Key Laboratory of Modern Acoustics of MOE and Institute of Acoustics, Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, People’s Republic of China
§ Department of Physics, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, People’s Republic of China
*(X.L.W.) E-mail: [email protected]. Tel: +86-25-83686303. Fax: +86-25-83595535.
Cite this: J. Phys. Chem. C 2014, 118, 9, 4578–4584
Publication Date (Web):February 12, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society
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Hydrogen generated by water splitting provides a renewable energy source, but development of materials with efficient electrocatalytic water splitting capability is challenging. Thin-film electrocatalytic material (H2–NiCat) with robust water reduction properties, which can be readily prepared by a reduction-induced electrodeposition method from nickel salts in a borate-buffered electrolyte (pH 9.2), is reported. The material consists of nanoparticles with nickel oxide or hydroxide species located at the surface and metallic nickel in the bulk. The catalyst mediates H2 evolution in a near-neutral aqueous buffer at low overpotential. The catalyst requires a subsequent oxidative pretreatment in order to attain a well-defined hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) activity, and the 1.5 h anodized catalyst film exhibits a HER current density of about 1.50 mA cm–2 at 0.452 V overpotential over a period of 24 h with no observable corrosion. In addition, it can be converted by anodic equilibration into an amorphous Ni-based oxide film (O2–NiCat) to catalyze O2 evolution, and the switch between the two catalytic forms is fully reversible. The robust, bifunctional, switchable, and noble-metal-free catalytic material has immense potential in artificial solar water-splitting devices.

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XRD analysis of the H2–NiCat film; electrodeposition processes of the H2–NiCat and 1.5 h anodized H2–NiCat films; characterizations and properties of the 1.5 h anodized H2–NiCat material; XAS characterization of the catalyst film under polarization switching measurement. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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