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Unified structural motifs of the catalytically active state of Co(oxyhydr)oxides during the electrochemical oxygen evolution reaction

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Bergmann,  Arno
Interface Science, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;
The Electrochemical Energy, Catalysis and Materials Science Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, Technical University Berlin;

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Jones,  Travis
Inorganic Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Teschner,  Detre
Inorganic Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;
Department of Heterogeneous Reactions, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion;

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Citation

Bergmann, A., Jones, T., Moreno, E. M., Teschner, D., Chernev, P., Gliech, M., et al. (2018). Unified structural motifs of the catalytically active state of Co(oxyhydr)oxides during the electrochemical oxygen evolution reaction. Nature Catalysis, 1(9), 711-719. doi:10.1038/s41929-018-0141-2.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-6765-9
Abstract
Efficient catalysts for the anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are critical for electrochemical H2 production. Their design requires structural knowledge of their catalytically active sites and state. Here, we track the atomic-scale structural evolution of well-defined CoOx(OH)y compounds into their catalytically active state during electrocatalytic operation through operando and surface-sensitive X-ray spectroscopy and surface voltammetry, supported by theoretical calculations. We find clear voltammetric evidence that electrochemically reducible near-surface Co3+–O sites play an organizing role for high OER activity. These sites invariably emerge independent of initial metal valency and coordination under catalytic OER conditions. Combining experiments and theory reveals the unified chemical structure motif as µ2-OH-bridged Co2+/3+ ion clusters formed on all three-dimensional cross-linked and layered CoOx(OH)y precursors and present in an oxidized form during the OER, as shown by operando X-ray spectroscopy. Together, the spectroscopic and electrochemical fingerprints offer a unified picture of our molecular understanding of the structure of catalytically active metal oxide OER sites.