Recently,the research group of Prof. Jie Zeng from Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale & School of Chemistry and Materials Science has made a breakthrough in the development of electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Researchers designed ultrathin WO3 nanosheets as an active and stable catalyst for HER through a liquid exfoliation method. This work was published on Nano Letters (Nano Lett. 2017, 17, 7968-7973) entitled as “Conductive Tungsten Oxide Nanosheets for Highly Efficient Hydrogen Evolution”. Graduate students, Tingting Zheng, Wei Sang, and Zhihai He were the co-first authors of this work.
Hydrogen, a clean and sustainable energy vector, is a promising alternative to traditional fossil fuels. Electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) represents one of the most advanced technologies for hydrogen production. Although Pt-based materials are the most active catalysts for HER, their large-scale application is hindered by high cost and lack of abundance. This limitation has sparked tremendous interests in exploring earth-abundant HER catalysts that could potentially replace Pt.
Herein, they synthesized WO3 nanosheets with rich O vacancies by liquid exfoliation. Electronic transport measurements disclose the nature of degenerate semiconductor for the WO3 nanosheets with O vacancies, consistent with our theoretical calculation results. The WO3 nanosheets rich in O vacancies exhibit a superior HER catalytic performance with a small overpotential of 38 mV at a current density of 10 mA cm-2 and low Tafel slope of 38 mV dec-1. Such activity was comparable to that of the commercial Pt/C. The high activity derived from the large surface area of the two-dimensional morphology and the O vacancies which rendered high electrical conductivity and appropriate ΔGH.
This work was supported by MOST of China and NSFC.
WO3 nanosheets and their catalytic performance