Surface-Electron Coupling for Efficient Hydrogen Evolution
Maximizing the activity of materials towards the alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction while maintaining their structural stability under realistic working conditions remains an area of active research. Herein, we report the first controllable surface modification of graphene(G)/V8C7 heterostructures by nitrogen. Because the introduced N atoms couple electronically with V atoms, the V sites can reduce the energy barrier for water adsorption and dissociation. Investigation of the multi-regional synergistic catalysis on N-modified G/V8C7 by experimental observations and density-functional-theory calculations reveals that the increase of electron density on the epitaxial graphene enable it to become favorable for H* adsorption and the subsequent reaction with another H2O molecule. This work extends the range of surface-engineering approaches to optimize the intrinsic properties of materials and could be generalized to the surface modification of other transition-metal carbides.