Construction of Polarized Carbon-Nickel Catalytic Surfaces for Potent, Durable, and Economic Hydrogen Evolution Reactions
Electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in alkaline solution is hindered by its sluggish kinetics toward water dissociation. Nickel-based catalysts, as low-cost and effective candidates, show great potentials to replace platinum (Pt)-based materials in the alkaline media. The main challenge regarding this type of catalysts is their relatively poor durability. In this work, we conceive and construct a charge-polarized carbon layer derived from carbon quantum dots (CQDs) on Ni 3 N nanostructure (Ni 3 N@CQDs) surfaces, which simultaneously exhibit durable and enhanced catalytic activity. The Ni 3 N@CQDs shows an overpotential of 69 mV at a current density of 10 mA cm -2 in a 1 M KOH aqueous solution, lower than that of Pt electrode (116 mV) at the same conditions. Density functional theory (DFT) simulations reveal that Ni 3 N and interfacial oxygen polarize charge distributions between originally equal C-C bonds in CQDs. The partially negatively charged C sites become effective catalytic centers for the key water dissociation step via the formation of new C-H bond (Volmer step) and thus boost the HER activity. Furthermore, the coated carbon is also found to protect interior Ni 3 N from oxidization/hydroxylation and therefore guarantees its durability. This work provides a practical design of robust and durable HER electrocatalysts based on nonprecious metals.