Available Active Sites on ε-Fe3N Nanoparticles Synthesized by a Facile Route for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

Publication Name

Advanced Materials Interfaces


Exploring efficient noble-metal-free water-splitting electrocatalysts from earth-abundant elements is of great importance to realize wide applications in the generation of hydrogen fuel for clean energy. Here, a facile route is reported to synthesize ε-Fe N single-phase nanoparticles by thermal ammonolysis of Fe precursors. The roles of nitrogen atoms in tailoring the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) activities of ε-Fe N have been systematically investigated. HER activity is enhanced by reducing the effective coordination number of nitrogen atoms from 2.61 to 1.67, where the standard coordination number in ε-Fe N is 2. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the reduction of nitrogen content lowers the energy of Tafel process on the ((Formula presented.) 100)-FeN-exposed and (11 (Formula presented.) 0) N-exposed surfaces. Both surfaces are thermodynamically favored for the HER. Furthermore, the active sites of Tafel process change from the kinetically less favored hollow sites of Fe atoms to the kinetically more favored top site of N atoms and the bridge site of Fe atoms on both ((Formula presented.) 100)-FeN and (11 (Formula presented.) 0) N-exposed surfaces. The findings propose a novel strategy to enhance HER activity by using nitrogen deficiency, which is of great importance for the development of highly active transition metal based electrocatalysts. 3 3 3

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)