Necklace-like Multishelled Hollow Spinel Oxides with Oxygen Vacancies for Efficient Water Electrolysis
The durability and reactivity of catalysts can be effectively and precisely controlled through the careful design and engineering of their surface structures and morphologies. Herein, we develop a novel "adsorption-calcination-reduction" strategy to synthesize spinel transitional metal oxides with a unique necklace-like multishelled hollow structure exploiting sacrificial templates of carbonaceous microspheres, including NiCo2O4(NCO), CoMn2O4, and NiMn2O4. Importantly, benefiting from the unique structures and reduction treatment to offer rich oxygen vacancies, the unique reduced NCO (R-NCO) as a bifunctional electrocatalyst exhibits the dual characteristics of good stability as well as high electrocatalytic activity for both the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER). At 1.61 V cell voltage, a 10 mA cm-2water splitting current density is obtained from the dual-electrode, alkaline water electrolyzer. Calculations based on density functional theory (DFT) reveal a mechanism for the promotion of the catalytic reactions based on a decrease in the energy barrier for the formation of intermediates resulting from the introduction of oxygen vacancies through the reduction process. This method could prove to be an effective general strategy for the preparation of complex, hollow structures and functionalities.