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In Situ Characterization of Ni and Ni/Fe Thin Film Electrodes for Oxygen Evolution in Alkaline Media by a Raman-Coupled Scanning Electrochemical Microscope Setup

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journal contribution
posted on 21.09.2017, 00:00 by Matthias Steimecke, Gerda Seiffarth, Michael Bron
We present a spectroelectrochemical setup, in which Raman microscopy is combined with scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) in order to provide both spectroscopic and electrochemical information on the very same location of an electrode at the same time. The setup is applied to a subject of high academic and practical interest, namely, the oxygen evolution reaction at Ni and Ni/Fe electrodes. It comprises a transparent substrate electrode, onto which Ni and Ni/Fe thin films are deposited. An ultramicroelectrode (UME) is placed closely above the substrate to obtain electrochemical information, while a Raman microscope probes the same sample spot from below. To obtain information on oxygen evolution activity and structural changes, increasingly positive potentials from 0.1 up to 0.7 V vs Hg|HgO|1 M KOH were applied to the Ni/Fe-electrodes in 0.1 M KOH solution. Evolved oxygen is detected by reduction at a Pt UME, allowing for the determination of onset potentials, while the substrate current, which is recorded in parallel, is due to both overlapping oxygen evolution and the oxidation of Ni­(OH)2 to NiOOH. An optimum of 15% Fe in Ni/Fe films with respect to oxygen evolution activity was determined. At the same time, the potential-dependent formation of γ-NiOOH characterized by the Raman double band at 475 and 557 cm–1 allows for the conclusion that a certain amount of disorder introduced by Fe atoms is necessary to obtain high oxygen evolution reaction (OER) activity.