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Self-Assembly of a Rh(I) Complex on Au(111) Surfaces and Its Electrocatalytic Activity toward the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

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journal contribution
posted on 05.06.2007, 00:00 by Xiao-Shun Zhou, Zhen-Rong Dong, Hai-Ming Zhang, Jia-Wei Yan, Jing-Xing Gao, Bing-Wei Mao
The self-assembly of a Wilkinson type of catalyst molecule, trans-RhCl(CO)(PPh3)2, on Au(111) surfaces and its electrocatalytic properties toward the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) are investigated by employing scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), cyclic voltammetry (CV), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The self-assembled monolayers of RhCl(CO)(PPh3)2 are prepared from either dichloromethane or aqueous solutions, but the ordered structures are observed only in atmospheric conditions after solvents evaporate. In the electrolyte solutions, disordered yet uniformly sized spherical clusters of individual molecules are observed as a result of the conformational change of the molecule by the solvation effect of water. The immobilized Rh(I) molecular clusters are electrochemically stable in a wide potential window and exhibit remarkable electrocatalytic activity toward HER in perchloric acid solutions. Several comparative experiments involving similar types of immobilized complexes containing Ru(I) and Ir(I) centers and solution species of RhCl(CO)(PPh3)2 are performed. However, none of them are found to be electroactive to HER. The Tafel slope of HER on the Rh(I) complex modified Au(111) electrode in 0.1 M HClO4 is determined to be −0.061 V, which is almost in the middle of those on bare Au(111) (−0.093 V) and Rh covered (θRh ≈ 0.3) Au(111) (−0.034 V) electrodes. XPS measurements reveal a valence change of Rh(I) to Rh(0), and an oxidative addition and reductive elimination mechanism is suggested for the enhancement of HER.