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Molybdenum Carbide-Embedded Nitrogen-Doped Porous Carbon Nanosheets as Electrocatalysts for Water Splitting in Alkaline Media

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journal contribution
posted on 14.03.2017, 00:00 by Chenbao Lu, Diana Tranca, Jian Zhang, Fermı́n Rodrı́guez Hernández, Yuezeng Su, Xiaodong Zhuang, Fan Zhang, Gotthard Seifert, Xinliang Feng
Molybdenum carbide (Mo2C) based catalysts were found to be one of the most promising electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in acid media in comparison with Pt-based catalysts but were seldom investigated in alkaline media, probably due to the limited active sites, poor conductivity, and high energy barrier for water dissociation. In this work, Mo2C-embedded nitrogen-doped porous carbon nanosheets (Mo2C@2D-NPCs) were successfully achieved with the help of a convenient interfacial strategy. As a HER electrocatalyst in alkaline solution, Mo2C@2D-NPC exhibited an extremely low onset potential of ∼0 mV and a current density of 10 mA cm–2 at an overpotential of ∼45 mV, which is much lower than the values of most reported HER electrocatalysts and comparable to the noble metal catalyst Pt. In addition, the Tafel slope and the exchange current density of Mo2C@2D-NPC were 46 mV decade–1 and 1.14 × 10–3 A cm–2, respectively, outperforming the state-of-the-art metal-carbide-based electrocatalysts in alkaline media. Such excellent HER activity was attributed to the rich Mo2C/NPC heterostructures and synergistic contribution of nitrogen doping, outstanding conductivity of graphene, and abundant active sites at the heterostructures.