Bifunctional iron nickel phosphide nanocatalysts supported on porous carbon for highly efficient overall water splitting

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Journal Article
Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2019, 22
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© 2019 The development of low-cost and earth-abundant materials for efficient oxygen and hydrogen evolution is critical for water splitting as a feasible energy conversion system. Metallic phosphides as promising bifunctional catalysts for water splitting tend to aggregate during the preparation and application. Thus, constructing metal phosphide-based composites with well-exposed active sites and stable structure is essential. Here, bi-metallic iron nickel phosphide nanoparticles (NPs) loaded on three-dimensional (3D) porous carbon (denoted as FexNi2-xP (0 < x < 2)) is synthesized through a facile co-deposition method followed by in situ phosphidation. The interconnected porous carbon with large specific area, abundant microporous and oxygen-containing functional groups contribute to the generation of ultra-small Fe–Ni–P NPs by confining growth of Fe–Ni layered double hydroxide (Fe–Ni–LDH) precursor. The ultra-small FexNi2-xP NPs loaded on 3D interconnected porous carbon with large active surface area and high conductivity can offer abundant catalytic active sites, facilitate mass transport and optimize electronic configuration, thereby promoting the reaction kinetics and accelerating catalytic performance. By tailoring the Ni/Fe ratios, the optimal bimetallic phosphide exhibits a small overpotential of 210 mV at current density of 10 mA cm−2 for oxygen evolution reaction. When applying for water splitting as cathode and anode materials in an alkaline electrolyzer, the potential of 1.63 V is required to reach 10 mA cm−2. The catalyst obtained from this strategy is a promising bi-functional catalyst for water splitting.
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