Atomically dispersed nickel–nitrogen–sulfur species anchored on porous carbon nanosheets for efficient water oxidation

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2019-03-27

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09394-5

Affiliations: 9

Authors: 13

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Research Highlight

Elements combine for solar water splitting

© Alessandro Licata/Getty

© Alessandro Licata/Getty

A precisely positioned quintet of nickel, sulfur and nitrogen atoms could pave the way to low-cost materials for the solar-powered production of hydrogen fuel.

Water-splitting photoelectrocatalysts use sunlight to produce readily storable and transportable hydrogen fuel. Water splitting also generates oxygen via the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), but high-performing OER catalysts typically use rare and expensive metals.

Recent research into alternative, earth-abundant OER catalyst materials has highlighted the catalytic properties of single nickel atoms bonded to four nitrogen atoms within a carbon nanosheet. However, theoretical studies have suggested the strong electron-withdrawing nature of nitrogen atoms might slow the reaction.

Now, an international team, which included researchers from the Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University, has shown that swapping a nitrogen atom for a sulfur atom leads to significantly higher OER performance. The five-atom nickel–nitrogen–sulfur structure even out-performed the state-of-the-art iridium/carbon OER catalyst.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 10, 1392 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09394-5
Institutions Share
Zhejiang University (ZJU), China 0.18
Tohoku University, Japan 0.15
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea 0.15
Cluster of Excellence - Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (CFAED), TU Dresden, Germany 0.14
Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden), Germany 0.14
Central China Normal University (CCNU), China 0.08
Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), South Korea 0.08
Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), United States of America (USA) 0.08
Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), Japan 0