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Fundamentals and Applications of Inorganic Oxygen Evolution Catalysts

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - FANOEC (Fundamentals and Applications of Inorganic Oxygen Evolution Catalysts)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-06-30

The oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is the key reaction to enable the storage of solar energy in the form of hydrogen fuel through water splitting. Efficient, Earth-abundant, and robust OER catalysts are required for a large-scale and cost-effective production of solar hydrogen. While OER catalysts based on metal oxides exhibit promising activity and stability, their rational design and developments are challenging due to the heterogeneous nature of the catalysts. The overall objectives of the project is to (i) understand OER on metal oxides at the molecular level and engineer catalytic sites at the atomic scale; (ii) develop and apply practical OER catalysts for high-efficiency water splitting in electrochemical and photoelectrochemical devices.
Upon successful completion of the project, we have been able to achieve a deep understanding of OER on metal oxides at the molecular level, and to develop better catalysts based on this understanding, including some of the best catalysts known to date. We demonstrated promising utility of these catalysts in electrochemical and photoelectrochemical devices.
We have worked on the development of new synthetic methods for OER catalysts, the design and development of new catalysts, the characterization of catalysts at a molecular level including the development of new tools, and the integration of catalysts into light-harvesting devices. We have obtained significant results:
1. Several novel synthetic methods for OER catalysts have been developed.
2. We developed a highly active and unconventional NiFe catalyst.
3. An efficient photo device incorporating an OER catalyst has been constructed.
4. We completed a study of the stability of OER catalysts.
5. We developed the first atomically dispersed "double-atom" OER catalysts.
6. Using operando spectroscopic tools and isotope exchange experiments, we revealed the origin of the high activity of NiFe OER catalysts.
7. We revealed the mechanism of OER for representative catalysts.
8. We obtained the first experimental evidences for a novel type of mechanism in OER, which can be used to design next generation catalysts.
9. We demonstrated the highest efficiency alkaline water electrolysis using our catalysts.
Our work has resulted in 21 scientific publications. We have disseminated our results in scientific conferences, workshops, press releases, and social media. More than 13'000 people are exposed to our work.
We have achieved the following that are beyond the state-of-the-art:
(1) In-situ and operando characterization of well-defined solid-state catalysts.
(2) Measurement of active sites of solid-state catalysts by using well-defined novel catalysts developed in the project.
(3) Molecular-level understanding of benchmark catalysts.
(4) An OER catalyst that is 10-fold more active than the previous benchmark NiFe oxyhydroxide
(5) New design principles for next generation high performing catalysts based on comprehensive molecular level mechanistic studies.
Studies of catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction