Activating Ru in the pyramidal sites of Ru2P-type structures with earth-abundant transition-metals for achieving extremely high HER activity while minimizing noble metal content

02 May 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Rational design of efficient pH-universal hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) catalysts to enable large-scale hydrogen production via electrochemical water splitting is of great significance, yet a challenging task. Herein, Ru atoms in the Ru2P structure were replaced with M=Co, Ni, or Mo to produce M2-xRuxP nanocrystals. The metals show strong site preference, with Co and Ni occupying the tetrahedral sites and Ru the square pyramidal sites of the CoRuP and NiRuP Ru2P-type structures. The presence of Co or Ni in the tetrahedral sites leads to charge redistribution for Ru and, according to density functional theory (DFT) calculations, to a significant increase in the Ru d-band centers. As a result, the intrinsic activity of CoRuP and 1 NiRuP increases considerably compared to Ru2P in both acidic and alkaline media. The effect is not observed for MoRuP, in which Mo prefers to occupy the pyramidal sites. In particular, CoRuP shows state-of-the-art activity, outperforming Ru2P with Pt-like activity in 0.5 M H2SO4 (η10=12.3 mV; η100=52 mV; turnover frequency (TOF)=4.7 s-1). It remains extraordinarily active in alkaline conditions (η10=12.9 mV; η100=43.5 mV) with a TOF of 4.5 s-1, which is 4x higher than that of Ru2P and 10x that of Pt/C. Further increase of the Co content does not lead to drastic loss of activity, especially in alkaline medium, where for example the TOF of Co1.9Ru0.1P remains comparable to that of Ru2P and higher than Pt/C, highlighting the viability of the adopted approach to prepare cost efficient catalysts.


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