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A Low‐Temperature Molecular Precursor Approach to Copper‐Based Nano‐Sized Digenite Mineral for Efficient Electrocatalytic Oxygen Evolution Reaction

Chakraborty, Biswarup; Kalra, Shweta; Beltrán‐Suito, Rodrigo; Das, Chittaranjan; Hellmann, Tim; Menezes, Prashanth W.; Driess, Matthias

FG Metallorganische Chemie und Anorganische Materialien

In the urge of designing noble metal‐free and sustainable electrocatalysts for oxygen evolution reaction (OER), herein, a mineral Digenite Cu9S5 has been prepared from a molecular copper(I) precursor, [{(PyHS)2CuI(PyHS)}2](OTf)2 (1), and utilized as an anode material in electrocatalytic OER for the first time. A hot injection of 1 yielded a pure phase and highly crystalline Cu9S5, which was then electrophoretically deposited (EPD) on a highly conducting nickel foam (NF) substrate. When assessed as an electrode for OER, the Cu9S5/NF displayed an overpotential of merely 298±3 mV at a current density of 10 mA cm−2 in alkaline media. The overpotential recorded here supersedes the value obtained for the best reported Cu‐based as well as the benchmark precious‐metal‐based RuO2 and IrO2 electrocatalysts. In addition, the choronoamperometric OER indicated the superior stability of Cu9S5/NF, rendering its suitability as the sustainable anode material for practical feasibility. The excellent catalytic activity of Cu9S5 can be attributed to the formation of a crystalline CuO overlayer on the conductive Cu9S5 that behaves as active species to facilitate OER. This study delivers a distinct molecular precursor approach to produce highly active copper‐based catalysts that could be used as an efficient and durable OER electro(pre)catalysts relying on non‐precious metals.