Electronic and Morphological Dual Modulation of Cobalt Carbonate Hydroxides by Mn Doping toward Highly Efficient and Stable Bifunctional Electrocatalysts for Overall Water Splitting

Developing bifunctional efficient and durable non-noble electrocatalysts for oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is highly desirable and challenging for overall water splitting. Herein, Co–Mn carbonate hydroxide (CoMnCH) nanosheet arrays with controllable morphology and composition were developed on nickel foam (NF) as such a bifunctional electrocatalyst. It is discovered that Mn doping in CoCH can simultaneously modulate the nanosheet morphology to significantly increase the electrochemical active surface area for exposing more accessible active sites and tune the electronic structure of Co center to effectively boost its intrinsic activity. As a result, the optimized Co1Mn1CH/NF electrode exhibits unprecedented OER activity with an ultralow overpotential of 294 mV at 30 mA cm–2, compared with all reported metal carbonate hydroxides. Benefited from 3D open nanosheet array topographic structure with tight contact between nanosheets and NF, it is able to deliver a high and stable current density of 1000 mA cm–2 at only an overpotential of 462 mV with no interference from high-flux oxygen evolution. Despite no reports about effective HER on metal carbonate hydroxides yet, the small overpotential of 180 mV at 10 mA cm–2 for HER can be also achieved on Co1Mn1CH/NF by the dual modulation of Mn doping. This offers a two-electrode electrolyzer using bifunctional Co1Mn1CH/NF as both anode and cathode to perform stable overall water splitting with a cell voltage of only 1.68 V at 10 mA cm–2. These findings may open up opportunities to explore other multimetal carbonate hydroxides as practical bifunctional electrocatalysts for scale-up water electrolysis.