Synthesis and implementation of highly active, stable, and affordable electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is a major challenge in developing energy efficient and economically viable energy conversion devices such as electrolyzers, rechargeable metal-air batteries, and regenerative fuel cells. The current benchmark electrocatalyst for OER is based on iridium oxide (IrOx) due to its superior performance and excellent stability. However, large scale applications using IrOx are impractical due to its low abundance and high cost. Herein, we report a highly active hafnium-modified iridium oxide (IrHfxOy) electrocatalyst for OER. The IrHfxOy electrocatalyst demonstrated ten times higher activity in alkaline conditions (pH = 11) and four times higher activity in acid conditions (pH = 1) than a IrOx electrocatalyst. The highest intrinsic mass activity of the IrHfxOy catalyst in acid conditions was calculated as 6950 A gIrOx-1 at an overpotential (η) of 0.3 V. Combined studies utilizing operando surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and DFT calculations revealed that the active sites for OER are the Ir-O species for both IrOx and IrHfxOy catalysts. The presence of Hf sites leads to more negative charge states on nearby O sites, shortening of the bond lengths of Ir-O, and lowers free energies for OER intermediates that accelerate the OER process.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry