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Molecular Level Design of Nitrogen-Doped Well-Defined Microporous Carbon Spheres for Selective Adsorption and Electrocatalysis

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journal contribution
posted on 05.03.2021, 20:05 by Zirun Chen, Shaohong Liu, Junlong Huang, Wen Huang, Luyi Chen, Yin Cui, Yang Du, Ruowen Fu
Nitrogen-doped porous carbon spheres have attracted great interest in diversified fields owing to their unique physical and chemical properties. However, the synthesis of nitrogen-doped porous carbon spheres with hierarchical superstructures and refined micropore structures is still a challenge. Herein, we develop a molecular-scale silica templating strategy to prepare nitrogen-doped microporous carbon spheres (MCSSs) with high porosity and a well-defined micropore structure. Octa­(aminophenyl) polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane is used as a building block in MCSS precursors to provide precise molecular-scale templating and nitrogen doping. The morphology of MCSSs can be easily tuned by choosing the proper solvent. The as-synthesized MCSS with a large surface area (2036 m2 g–1), narrow micropore size distribution, nitrogen doping, and hierarchical geometry can serve as an efficient selective adsorbent for CO2 and organic pollutants. Furthermore, the MCSS decorated with Fe–N–C active sites (MCSS–Fe) shows enhanced electrocatalytic ORR activity in alkaline solution. This novel approach may open a new avenue for controllable fabrication of porous carbon spheres with desired geometry and well-designed pore structure and show potential applications in selective adsorption and catalysis.