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Title: Understanding the Oxygen Evolution Reaction Mechanism on CoO x using Operando Ambient-Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a promising approach for renewable production of hydrogen from solar energy and requires interfacing advanced water-splitting catalysts with semiconductors. Understanding the mechanism of function of such electrocatalysts at the atomic scale and under realistic working conditions is a challenging, yet important, task for advancing efficient and stable function. This is particularly true for the case of oxygen evolution catalysts and, here, we study a highly active Co 3O 4/Co(OH) 2 biphasic electrocatalyst on Si by means of operando ambient-pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy performed at the solid/liquid electrified interface. Spectral simulation and multiplet fitting reveal that the catalyst undergoes chemical-structural transformations as a function of the applied anodic potential, with complete conversion of the Co(OH) 2 and partial conversion of the spinel Co 3O 4 phases to CoO(OH) under precatalytic electrochemical conditions. Furthermore, we observe new spectral features in both Co 2p and O 1s core-level regions to emerge under oxygen evolution reaction conditions on CoO(OH). The operando photoelectron spectra support assignment of these newly observed features to highly active Co 4+ centers under catalytic conditions. Comparison of these results to those from a pure phase spinel Co 3O 4 catalyst supports this interpretation and reveals thatmore » the presence of Co(OH) 2 enhances catalytic activity by promoting transformations to CoO(OH). The direct investigation of electrified interfaces presented in this work can be extended to different materials under realistic catalytic conditions, thereby providing a powerful tool for mechanism discovery and an enabling capability for catalyst design.« less
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  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin fur Materialien und Energie GmbH, Berlin (Germany)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. IOM-CNR, Trieste (Italy)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of the American Chemical Society
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 139; Journal Issue: 26; Journal ID: ISSN 0002-7863
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; water splitting; cobalt oxide photoelectrocatalysts; operando spectroscopy; ambient pressure XPS; oxygen evolution reaction mechanism
OSTI Identifier: