Graphene-supported iron-based nanoparticles encapsulated in nitrogen-doped carbon as a synergistic catalyst for hydrogen evolution and oxygen reduction reactions

Jing Wang, Guoxiong Wang, Shu Miao, Jiayuan Li, Xinhe Bao
Faraday Discussions 2014, 176: 135-51
Electrolyzers and fuel cells have been extensively investigated as promising solutions for renewable energy storage and conversion. Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) are important electrocatalytic processes in electrolyzers and fuel cells. Exploring efficient non-precious metal catalysts for HER and ORR in acidic medium remains a great challenge. Herein, we report that graphene-supported iron-based nanoparticles encapsulated in a nitrogen-doped carbon (Fe@N-C) hybrid material acts as an efficient HER and ORR catalyst. The hybrid material was synthesized by pyrolysis of graphene oxide and ammonia ferric citrate followed by acid-leaching. During the pyrolysis, nitrogen was doped into a graphene lattice, and the carbon nanoshell grown on graphene effectively suppressed the stacking of graphene sheets, exposing more active sites to reactants. The hybrid material showed higher electrocatalytic activities than graphene sheets or Fe@N-C alone, which is probably attributed to the synergetic role of nitrogen-doped graphene and Fe@N-C towards the electrocatalytic reactions.

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