Unlocking the Potential of Single Atoms Loaded Geobacter Hybrid Catalyst as Bifunctional Electrocatalyst for Water Splitting

09 November 2020, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Single-atom metal (SA-M) catalysts with high dispersion of active metal sites allow maximum atomic utilization. However, conventional synthesis of SA-M catalysts involves high-temperature treatments, leading to a low yield with random distribution of atoms. Herein, a facile method to synthesize SA-M catalysts (M = Fe, Ir, Pt, Ru, Cu, or Pd) in a single step at ambient temperature, using the extracellular electron transfer capability of Geobacter sulfurreducens (GS), is presented. Interestingly, the SA-M is coordinated to three nitrogen (N) atoms adopting an MN3 on the surface of GS. Dry samples of SA-Ir@GS without further heat treatments show exceptionally high activity for OER when compared to benchmark IrO2 catalyst and comparable HER activity to commercial 10 wt.% Pt/C. The SA-Ir@GS electrocatalyst exhibits the best water‐splitting performance compared to other SA-M@GS, showing a low applied potential of 1.65 V to achieve 10 mA cm−2 in 1.0 M KOH solution with cycling over 5 h. The density functional calculations reveal that the large adsorption energy of H2O and moderate adsorption energies of reactants and reaction intermediates for SA-Ir@GS favorably improve its activity. This nature-based facile synthesis method of SA-M at room temperature provides a versatile platform for the preparation of other transition metal SA-M catalysts for various energy-related applications by merely altering the metal precursors.


Single-atom catalysts
water splitting
bifunctional electrocatalyst
hydrogen evolution reaction
oxygen evolution reaction
Geobacter sulfurreducens
extracellular electron transfer


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.