Physical Chemistry

Requirements for Beneficial Electrochemical Restructuring: A Model Study on a Cobalt Oxide in Selected Electrolytes

Abstract

The requirements for beneficial materials restructuring into a higher performance OER electrocatalyst are still a largely open question. Here we use Erythrite (Co3(AsO4)2 8H2O) as a Co-based OER electrocatalyst to evaluate its catalytic properties during in-situ restructuring into an amorphous Co-based catalyst in four different electrolytes at pH 7. Using diffraction, microscopy and spectroscopy, we observed a strong effect in the restructuring kinetics depending of the anions in the electrolyte. Only carbonate electrolyte could activate the catalyst electrode, which we relate to its slow restructuring kinetics. While its turnover frequency (TOF) reduced from 2.84 O2 Co-1 s-1 to a constant value of 0.10 O2 Co-1 s-1 after ~ 300 cycles, the number of redox active sites continuously increased, which explained the current increase of around 100%. The final activated material owns an adequate local order, a high Co oxidation state and a high number of redox-active Co ions, which we identify as the trinity for enhancing the OER activity. Thus, this work provides new insights into for the rational design of high-performance OER catalysts by electrochemical restructuring.

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Preprint V1

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