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Three-Dimensional Nanoporous Co9S4P4 Pentlandite as a Bifunctional Electrocatalyst for Overall Neutral Water Splitting

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journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2019, 00:00 by Yongwen Tan, Min Luo, Pan Liu, Chun Cheng, Jiuhui Han, Kentaro Watanabe, Mingwei Chen
Significant progress has recently been achieved in developing noble-metal-free catalysts for electrochemical water splitting in acidic and alkaline electrolytes. However, high-performance bifunctional catalysts toward both hydrogen evolution and oxygen oxidation reactions of neutral water have not been realized in spite of the technical importance for electrochemical hydrogen production in natural environments powered by renewable energy sources of wind, solar, and so on. Here, we report a nanoporous Co9S4P4 pentlandite with three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporosity for electrochemical water splitting in neutral solutions. The three-dimensional binder-free catalyst shows a negligible onset overpotential, low Tafel slope, and excellent poisoning tolerance for hydrogen evolution reaction, comparable to or even better than commercial Pt catalysts. Remarkably, the new catalyst also has excellent catalytic activities toward oxygen evolution and, hence, can be used as both anode and cathode for overall neutral water splitting. These extraordinary catalytic activities toward neutral water splitting have never been obtained from non-noble-metal catalysts before. The bifunctional and low-cost catalyst holds great promise for practical applications in electrochemical water splitting in natural environments.