Inorganic Chemistry, Vol.57, No.16, 9977-9987, 2018
Single-Doped and Multidoped Transition-Metal (Mn, Fe, Co, and Ni) ZnO and Their Electrocatalytic Activities for Oxygen Reduction Reaction
The electrochemical oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is the limiting half-reaction of fuel cells, which is mediated by using platinum-based catalysts. Hence, the development of low-cost, active ORR catalysts is highly required to make fuel cell technology commercially available. In this report, transition-metal (TM; Mn, Fe, Co, and Ni) single-doped and multidoped (MD) ZnO nanocrystals (ZNs) were prepared for use as ORR catalysts using a simple precipitation method. The effects of single doping and multidoping on the structure, morphology, and properties of the TM-doped ZNs were analyzed using X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray fluorescence, X-ray photoelectron microscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance, and Raman and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopies. The XRD results reveal that synthesized ZnO samples retained a pure hexagonal wurtzite crystal structure, even at high levels of multidoping (nominal 20%). SEM analyses show that the morphology of the prepared ZNs varies with the doping elements, doping mode, and amounts of doping. The observation of peak shifting and peak intensity changes in Raman studies confirms the presence of dopants in ZnO. The PL investigation reveals that the incorporation of dopants into the ZnO structure increases the oxygen vacancies within the materials. The highest oxygen vacancies were present in Mn-doped ZnO and 15% MD ZnO among the single-doped and MD samples, respectively. Linear-sweep voltammetry studies conclude that doped ZnO shows enhanced ORR activity compared to the undoped samples. The Mn-doped ZnO and 15% MD ZnO exhibited the highest ORR activity among the prepared single-doped and MD ZN samples, respectively. In comparison, single doping showed better ORR activity than the multidoping system. The enhanced ORR activity of the synthesized ZN materials correlates with the amount of oxygen vacancies present in the samples. The enhanced activity of TM-doped ZnO suggests that these materials can be used as potential, low-cost electrocatalysts for ORR in fuel cell technology.