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A bifunctional electrocatalyst of PtNi nanoparticles immobilized on three-dimensional carbon nanofiber mats for efficient and stable water splitting in both acid and basic media

Chen, Jiawei, Wang, Juan, Chen, Jiadong, Wang, Lina
Journal of materials science 2017 v.52 no.22 pp. 13064-13077
carbon nanofibers, carbonization, catalysts, electrodes, electrolytes, hydrogen production, nanoparticles, nickel, oxygen production, platinum, potassium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, synergism
Inspired by the excellent activity of platinum in hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the good performance of Ni-based compounds in oxygen evolution reaction (OER), a bifunctional electrocatalyst PtNi carbon nanofiber (CNF) is designed and fabricated using electrospinning followed by carbonization. Ultra-small PtNi nanoparticles of several nanometers in size are densely dispersed on every CNF, along with a few larger nanoparticles with sizes of several decades of nanometers. The as-prepared catalysts can be directly used as an electrode and act as high-efficiency materials for water splitting, including HER and OER. For HER activity, the PtNi/CNFs reach 10 mA cm⁻² current density at low overpotentials of 34 mV and exhibit a small Tafel slope of 31 mV dec⁻¹ in acidic electrolytes of 0.5 M H₂SO₄, which is close to that of commercial Pt/C (20 wt%) electrocatalytic catalysts. In 1 M KOH solution, the PtNi/CNFs also exhibit excellent HER activity with a low overpotential of 82 mV to achieve a current density of 10 mA cm⁻² and a small Tafel slope of 34 mV dec⁻¹. Moreover, the PtNi/CNFs also show good activity for OER in alkaline electrolyte of 1 M KOH with a Tafel slope of 159 mV dec⁻¹ and a small overpotential of 151 mV to reach a current density of 10 mA cm⁻². In addition, the OER performance of the PtNi/CNFs in acid media is also favorable, with a 198 mV dec⁻¹ Tafel slope. The decent activity of the PtNi/CNFs for water splitting originates from the synergistic effects of using Pt and Ni, large amounts of ultra-small nanoparticles densely dispersed on the CNFs, high conductivity of the support materials and interconnected three-dimensional structures of the carbon nanofiber mats.