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  1. Ferroelectric nanomaterials offer the promise of switchable electronic properties at the surface, with implications for photo- and electrocatalysis. Studies to date on the effect of ferroelectric surfaces in electrocatalysis have been primarily limited to nanoparticle systems where complex interfaces arise. Here, we use MBE-grown epitaxial BaTiO3 thin films with atomically sharp interfaces as model surfaces to demonstrate the effect of ferroelectric polarization on the electronic structure, intermediate binding energy, and electrochemical activity toward the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Surface spectroscopy and ab initio DFT +U calculations of the well-defined (001) surfaces indicate that an upward polarized surface reduces the work function relative to downward polarization and leads to a smaller HER barrier, in agreement with the higher activity observed experimentally. Employing ferroelectric polarization to create multiple adsorbate interactions over a single electrocatalytic surface, as demonstrated in this work, may offer new opportunities for nanoscale catalysis design beyond traditional descriptors.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2023
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