Ordered mesoporous carbon nitrides with graphitic frameworks as metal-free, highly durable, methanol-tolerant oxygen reduction catalysts in an acidic medium

Kyungjung Kwon, Young Jin Sa, Jae Yeong Cheon, Sang Hoon Joo
Langmuir: the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids 2012 January 10, 28 (1): 991-6
Developments of high-performance cost-effective electrocatalyts that can replace Pt catalysts have been a central theme in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). In this direction, nitrogen-doped carbon nanostructures free of metallic components have attracted particular attention. Here we show that directing graphitic carbon nitride frameworks into mesoporous architecture can generate a highly promising metal-free electrocatalyst for an oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in an acidic medium. The ordered mesoporous carbon nitride (OMCN) was synthesized with a nanocasting strategy using ordered mesoporous silica as a template. A variety of characterizations revealed that the OMCN is constructed with graphitic carbon nitride frameworks and ordered arrays of uniform mesopores. The OMCN showed significantly enhanced electrocatalytic activity for ORR compared to bulk carbon nitride and ordered mesoporous carbon in terms of the current density and onset potential. A high surface area and an increased density of catalytically active nitrogen groups in the OMCN appear to contribute concomitantly to the enhanced performance of the OMCN. Furthermore, the OMCN exhibited superior durability and methanol tolerance to a Pt/C catalyst, suggesting its widespread utilization as an electrocatalyst for PEMFCs and DMFCs.

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