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  1. X-ray spectroscopy is a valuable technique for the study of many materials systems. Characterizing reactionsin situandoperandocan reveal complex reaction kinetics, which is crucial to understanding active site composition and reaction mechanisms. In this project, the design, fabrication and testing of an open-source and easy-to-fabricate electrochemical cell forin situelectrochemistry compatible with X-ray absorption spectroscopy in both transmission and fluorescence modes are accomplished via windows with large opening angles on both the upstream and downstream sides of the cell. Using a hobbyist computer numerical control machine and free 3D CAD software, anyone can make a reliable electrochemical cell using this design. Onion-like carbon nanoparticles, with a 1:3 iron-to-cobalt ratio, were drop-coated onto carbon paper for testingin situX-ray absorption spectroscopy. Cyclic voltammetry of the carbon paper showed the expected behavior, with no increased ohmic drop, even in sandwiched cells. Chronoamperometry was used to apply 0.4 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode, with and without 15 min of oxygen purging to ensure that the electrochemical cell does not provide any artefacts due to gas purging. The XANES and EXAFS spectra showed no differences with and without oxygen, as expected at 0.4 V, without any artefacts due to gas purging. The development of this open-source electrochemical cell design allows for improved collection ofin situX-ray absorption spectroscopy data and enables researchers to perform both transmission and fluorescence simultaneously. It additionally addresses key practical considerations including gas purging, reduced ionic resistance and leak prevention.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 28, 2024
  3. Platinum is used extensively as a catalyst for a wide variety of chemical reactions, though its scarcity and price present limitations to expansions of its use. To understand the origin of platinum's versatility—with the goals of both improving the efficiency of existing catalysts and mimicking its reactivity with more abundant metals—the mechanisms of platinum-catalyzed chemical reactions must be understood via structural and spectroscopic characterization of these catalysts under operando conditions. Such data, typically consisting of complex mixtures of species, often prove challenging to interpret, inviting the aid of chemical theory. DFT calculations in particular have proven successful at predicting structural and spectroscopic parameters of transition metal species, though a thorough investigation of how these methods perform for platinum-based complexes has yet to be undertaken. Herein, we evaluated the performance of geometry optimization for five commonly used functionals (BP86, PBE, B3LYP, PBE0, and TPSSh) in combination with various ligand basis sets, relativistic approximations, and solvation and dispersion models. We applied these DFT methods to a training set of 14 platinum-containing complexes with varying sizes, oxidation states, and number and type of ligands and determined that the best-performing method was the PBE0 functional together with the def2-TZVP basis set for the ligand atoms, the ZORA relativistic approximation, and solvation and dispersion corrections. The ability of this DFT methodology to accurately predict metrical parameters was confirmed using two case studies, most notably by comparing the DFT optimized geometry of a previously uncharacterized complex to newly collected EXAFS data, which showed excellent agreement. 
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  4. Abstract

    We report the temperature dependence of the Yb valence in the geometrically frustrated compoundYbB4from 12 to 300 K using resonant x-ray emission spectroscopy at the YbLα1transition. We find that the Yb valence,v, is hybridized between thev = 2 andv = 3 valence states, increasing fromv=2.61±0.01at 12 K tov=2.67±0.01at 300 K, confirming thatYbB4is a Kondo system in the intermediate valence regime. This result indicates that the Kondo interaction inYbB4is substantial, and is likely to be the reason whyYbB4does not order magnetically at low temperature, rather than this being an effect of geometric frustration. Furthermore, the zero-point valence of the system is extracted from our data and compared with other Kondo lattice systems. The zero-point valence seems to be weakly dependent on the Kondo temperature scale, but not on the valence change temperature scaleTv.

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  5. Metal oxide semiconductors have attracted much attention due to their versatility in different applications, ranging from biosensing to green energy-harvesting technologies. Among these metal oxides, oxide-based diluted magnetic semiconductors have also been proposed for fuel cell applications, especially for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and the oxygen evolution reaction. However, the catalytic mechanism has been proposed to follow a two-electron pathway, forming hydrogen peroxide, instead of the four-electron pathway. Herein, we report cobalt-doped zinc oxide (CoxZn1–xO, 0 < x < 0.018) materials prepared using a co-precipitation method suitable for the electrocatalytic production of hydrogen peroxide. The electrocatalytic performance of CoxZn1–xO materials showed up to 60% hydrogen peroxide production with onset potentials near 649 mV, followed by the two-electron ORR mechanism. Ex situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy experiments at the Co K-edge demonstrated the presence of Co(II) ions at tetrahedral sites within the ZnO lattice. 
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  6. Abstract

    Overcoming slow kinetics and high overpotential in electrocatalytic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) requires innovative catalysts and approaches that transcend the scaling relationship between binding energies for intermediates and catalyst surfaces. Inorganic complexes provide unique, customizable geometries, which can help enhance their efficiencies. However, they are unstable and susceptible to chemical reaction under extreme pH conditions. Immobilizing complexes on substrates creates single‐molecule catalysts (SMCs) with functional similarities to single‐atom catalysts (SACs). Here, an efficient SMC, composed of dichloro(1,3‐bis(diphenylphosphino)propane) nickel [NiCl2dppp] anchored to a graphene acid (GA), is presented. This SMC surpasses ruthenium‐based OER benchmarks, exhibiting an ultra‐low onset and overpotential at 10 mAcm−2when exposed to a static magnetic field. Comprehensive experimental and theoretical analyses imply that an interfacial charge transfer from the Ni center in NiCl2dppp to GA enhances the OER activity. Spectroscopic investigations reveal an in situ geometrical transformation of the complex and the formation of a paramagnetic Ni center, which under a magnetic field, enables spin‐selective electron transfer, resulting in enhanced OER performance. The results highlight the significance of in situ geometric transformations in SMCs and underline the potential of an external magnetic field to enhance OER performance at a single‐molecule level.

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