Journal of Catalysis, Vol.383, 221-229, 2020
Tuning cobalt e(g) occupation of Co-NCNT by manipulation of crystallinity facilitates more efficient oxygen evolution and reduction
Co encapsulated in N-doped carbon nanotubes (Co-NCNT) catalysts are of high interest as bifunctional electrocatalyst material for both efficient oxygen evolution and reduction (OER/ORR) in applications of rechargeable metal-air batteries. Up to now, the role played by the functional metal species in OER/ORR is still insufficiently understood. The main focus of our research is to shed light on the mechanistic role of the Co species that serve as active sites in the bi-functional Co-NCNT catalysts. It is found that 5700 exhibits an outstanding OER/ORR activity. We thus hypothesize that Co-II and Co-III clusters predominately function as active sites in the OER and ORR processes, respectively. Furthermore, OER/ORR activity for Co-NCNT catalyst primarily correlates to e(g) occupation. A near-unity occupancy of the e(g) orbital of S700 is revealed to be the cause for the maximum intrinsic OER/ORR activity, which provides guidelines for the design of highly active catalysts. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.