Binary and ternary doping of nitrogen, boron, and phosphorus into carbon for enhancing electrochemical oxygen reduction activity

Chang Hyuck Choi, Sung Hyeon Park, Seong Ihl Woo
ACS Nano 2012 August 28, 6 (8): 7084-91
N-doped carbon, a promising alternative to Pt catalyst for oxygen reduction reactions (ORRs) in acidic media, is modified in order to increase its catalytic activity through the additional doping of B and P at the carbon growth step. This additional doping alters the electrical, physical, and morphological properties of the carbon. The B-doping reinforces the sp(2)-structure of graphite and increases the portion of pyridinic-N sites in the carbon lattice, whereas P-doping enhances the charge delocalization of the carbon atoms and produces carbon structures with many edge sites. These electrical and physical alternations of the N-doped carbon are more favorable for the reduction of the oxygen on the carbon surface. Compared with N-doped carbon, B,N-doped or P,N-doped carbon shows 1.2 or 2.1 times higher ORR activity at 0.6 V (vs RHE) in acidic media. The most active catalyst in the reaction is the ternary-doped carbon (B,P,N-doped carbon), which records -6.0 mA/mg of mass activity at 0.6 V (vs RHE), and it is 2.3 times higher than that of the N-doped carbon. These results imply that the binary or ternary doping of B and P with N into carbon induces remarkable performance enhancements, and the charge delocalization of the carbon atoms or number of edge sites of the carbon is a significant factor in deciding the oxygen reduction activity in carbon-based catalysts.

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