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Iridium single atoms incorporated in Co3O4 efficiently catalyze the oxygen evolution in acidic conditions

Zhu, Yiming; Wang, Jiaao; Koketsu, Toshinari; Kroschel, Matthias; Chen, Jin-Ming; Hsu, Su-Yang; Henkelman, Graeme; Hu, Zhiwei; Strasser, Peter; Ma, Jiwei

Designing active and stable electrocatalysts with economic efficiency for acidic oxygen evolution reaction is essential for developing proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers. Herein, we report on a cobalt oxide incorporated with iridium single atoms (Ir-Co3O4), prepared by a mechanochemical approach. Operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy reveals that Ir atoms are partially oxidized to active Ir>4+ during the reaction, meanwhile Ir and Co atoms with their bridged electrophilic O ligands acting as active sites, are jointly responsible for the enhanced performance. Theoretical calculations further disclose the isolated Ir atoms can effectively boost the electronic conductivity and optimize the energy barrier. As a result, Ir-Co3O4 exhibits significantly higher mass activity and turnover frequency than those of benchmark IrO2 in acidic conditions. Moreover, the catalyst preparation can be easily scaled up to gram-level per batch. The present approach highlights the concept of constructing single noble metal atoms incorporated cost-effective metal oxides catalysts for practical applications.
Published in: Nature Communications, 10.1038/s41467-022-35426-8, Nature Publishing Group