Enhancing Hydrogen Evolution Activity in Water Splitting by Tailoring Li+-Ni(OH)2-Pt Interfaces

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1256-1260
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211934

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Improving the sluggish kinetics for the electrochemical reduction of water to molecular hydrogen in alkaline environments is one key to reducing the high overpotentials and associated energy losses in water-alkali and chlor-alkali electrolyzers. We found that a controlled arrangement of nanometer-scale Ni(OH)2 clusters on platinum electrode surfaces manifests a factor of 8 activity increase in catalyzing the hydrogen evolution reaction relative to state-of-the-art metal and metal-oxide catalysts. In a bifunctional effect, the edges of the Ni(OH)2 clusters promoted the dissociation of water and the production of hydrogen intermediates that then adsorbed on the nearby Pt surfaces and recombined into molecular hydrogen. The generation of these hydrogen intermediates could be further enhanced via Li+-induced destabilization of the HO–H bond, resulting in a factor of 10 total increase in activity.

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