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  1. Abstract

    The chemical interrogation of individual atomic adsorbates on a surface significantly contributes to understanding the atomic-scale processes behind on-surface reactions. However, it remains highly challenging for current imaging or spectroscopic methods to achieve such a high chemical spatial resolution. Here we show that single oxygen adatoms on a boron monolayer (i.e., borophene) can be identified and mapped via ultrahigh vacuum tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (UHV-TERS) with ~4.8 Å spatial resolution and single bond (B–O) sensitivity. With this capability, we realize the atomically defined, chemically homogeneous, and thermally reversible oxidation of borophene via atomic oxygen in UHV. Furthermore, we reveal the propensity of borophene towards molecular oxygen activation at room temperature and phase-dependent chemical properties. In addition to offering atomic-level insights into the oxidation of borophene, this work demonstrates UHV-TERS as a powerful tool to probe the local chemistry of surface adsorbates in the atomic regime with widespread utilities in heterogeneous catalysis, on-surface molecular engineering, and low-dimensional materials.

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  2. Abstract

    Alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), consisted of Volmer and Heyrovsky/Tafel steps, requires extra energy for water dissociation, leading to more sluggish kinetics than acidic HER. Despite the advances in electrocatalysts, how to combine active sites to synergistically promote both steps and understand the underlying mechanism remain largely unexplored. Here, DFT calculations predict that NiO accelerates Volmer step while metallic Ni facilitates Heyrovsky/Tafel step. A facile strategy is thus developed to control Ni/NiO heterosurfaces in uniform and well-dispersed Ni-based nanocrystals, targeting both reaction steps synergistically. By systematically modulating the surface composition, we find that steering the elementary steps through tuning the Ni/NiO ratio can significantly enhance alkaline HER activity and Ni/NiO nanocrystals with a Ni/NiO ratio of 23.7% deliver the best activity, outperforming other state-of-the-art analogues. The results suggest that integrating bicomponent active sites for elementary steps is effective for promoting alkaline HER, but they have to be balanced.

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  3. Abstract

    The commercialization of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) relies on highly active and stable electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in acid media. The most successful catalysts for this reaction are nanostructured Pt‐alloy with a Pt‐skin. The synthesis of ultrasmall and ordered L10‐PtCo nanoparticle ORR catalysts further doped with a few percent of metals (W, Ga, Zn) is reported. Compared to commercial Pt/C catalyst, the L10‐W‐PtCo/C catalyst shows significant improvement in both initial activity and high‐temperature stability. The L10‐W‐PtCo/C catalyst achieves high activity and stability in the PEMFC after 50 000 voltage cycles at 80 °C, which is superior to the DOE 2020 targets. EXAFS analysis and density functional theory calculations reveal that W doping not only stabilizes the ordered intermetallic structure, but also tunes the Pt‐Pt distances in such a way to optimize the binding energy between Pt and O intermediates on the surface.

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  4. Abstract

    Engineering the crystal structure of Pt–M (M = transition metal) nanoalloys to chemically ordered ones has drawn increasing attention in oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalysis due to their high resistance against M etching in acid. Although Pt–Ni alloy nanoparticles (NPs) have demonstrated respectable initial ORR activity in acid, their stability remains a big challenge due to the fast etching of Ni. In this work, sub‐6 nm monodisperse chemically orderedL10‐Pt–Ni–Co NPs are synthesized for the first time by employing a bifunctional core/shell Pt/NiCoOxprecursor, which could provide abundant O‐vacancies for facilitated Pt/Ni/Co atom diffusion and prevent NP sintering during thermal annealing. Further, Co doping is found to remarkably enhance the ferromagnetism (room temperature coercivity reaching 2.1 kOe) and the consequent chemical ordering ofL10‐Pt–Ni NPs. As a result, the best‐performing carbon supportedL10‐PtNi0.8Co0.2catalyst reveals a half‐wave potential (E1/2) of 0.951 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode in 0.1mHClO4with 23‐times enhancement in mass activity over the commercial Pt/C catalyst along with much improved stability. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggest that theL10‐PtNi0.8Co0.2core could tune the surface strain of the Pt shell toward optimized Pt–O binding energy and facilitated reaction rate, thereby improving the ORR electrocatalysis.

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  5. Electrochemical conversion of CO 2 into value-added chemicals continues to draw interest in renewable energy applications. Although many metal catalysts are active in the CO 2 reduction reaction (CO 2 RR), their reactivity and selectivity are nonetheless hindered by the competing hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The competition of the HER and CO 2 RR stems from the energy scaling relationship between their reaction intermediates. Herein, we predict that bimetallic monolayer electrocatalysts (BMEs) – a monolayer of transition metals on top of extended metal substrates – could produce dual-functional active sites that circumvent the scaling relationship between the adsorption energies of HER and CO 2 RR intermediates. The antibonding interaction between the adsorbed H and the metal substrate is revealed to be responsible for circumventing the scaling relationship. Based on extensive density functional theory (DFT) calculations, we identify 11 BMEs which are highly active and selective toward the formation of formic acid with a much suppressed HER. The H–substrate antibonding interaction also leads to superior CO 2 RR performance on monolayer-coated penta-twinned nanowires. 
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