Controlled Surface Reconstruction on Ferromagnetic Oxides: Spin Pinning Effect to the Oxyhydroxide Layer and Its Enhanced Oxygen Evolution Activity


The production of hydrogen by water electrolysis suffers from the kinetic barriers in the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) that limits the overall efficiency. As spin-dependent kinetics exist in OER, the spin alignment in active OER catalysts is critical for reducing the kinetic barriers in OER. It is effective to facilitate the spin polarization in ferromagnetic catalysts by applying external magnetic field, which increases the OER efficiency. However, more active OER catalysts tend to have dynamic open-shell orbital configurations with disordered magnetic moments, without showing an apparent long-range interatomic ferromagnetism; thus controlling the spin alignment of these active catalysts is challenging. In this work, we report a strategy with spin pinning effect to make the spins in active oxyhydroxides more aligned for higher intrinsic OER activity. Such strategy bases on a controllable reconstruction: ferromagnetic oxides with controlled sulfurization can evolve into stable oxideFM/oxyhydroxide configurations with a thin oxyhydroxide layer under operando condition. The spin pinning effect is found at the interface of oxideFM/oxyhydroxide. The spin pinning effect can promote spin selective electron transfer on OER intermediates to generate oxygens with parallel spin alignment, which facilitates the production of triplet oxygen and increases the intrinsic activity of oxyhydroxide by ~ 1 order of magnitude. Under spin pinning, the spins in oxyhydroxide can become more aligned after magnetization as long-range ferromagnetic ordering is established on the magnetic domains in oxideFM. The OER kinetics are facilitated accordingly after magnetization, implying that the spin pinning effect is involved in the rate-determining step and this step is spin dependent. The spin polarization process in OER under spin pinning is also believed to be sensitive to the existence of active oxygen ligand (O(-)) in oxyhydroxide. When the O(-) is created in 1st deprotonation step under high pH, the spin polarization of ligand oxygens will be facilitated, which reduces the barrier for subsequent O-O coupling and promotes the O2 turnover.


Thumbnail image of Ms-spin pinning.pdf