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The Synergistic Effects of Alloying on the Performance and Stability of Co3Mo and Co7Mo6 for the Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution Reaction


Metal alloys have become a ubiquitous choice as catalysts for electrochemical hydrogen evolution in alkaline media. However, scarce and expensive Pt remains the key electrocatalyst in acidic electrolytes, making the search for earth-abundant and cheaper alternatives important. Herein, we present a facile and efficient synthetic route towards polycrystalline Co3Mo and Co7Mo6 alloys. The single-phased nature of the alloys is confirmed by X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. When electrochemically tested, they achieve competitively low overpotentials of 115 mV (Co3Mo ) and 160 mV (Co7Mo6 ) at 10 mA cm−2 in 0.5 M H2SO4, and 120 mV (Co3Mo ) and 160 mV (Co7Mo6 ) at 10 mA cm−2 in 1 M KOH. Both alloys outperform Co and Mo metals, which showed significantly higher overpotentials and lower current densities when tested under identical conditions, confirming the synergistic effect of the alloying. However, the low overpotential in Co3Mo comes at the price of stability. It rapidly becomes inactive when tested under applied potential bias. On the other hand, Co7Mo6 retains the current density over time without evidence of current decay. The findings demonstrate that even in free-standing form and without nanostructuring, polycrystalline bimetallic electrocatalysts could challenge the dominance of Pt in acidic media if ways for improving their stability were found.

Funding source: The Carnegie Trust for a Research Incentive Grant (RIG007428). China Scholarship Council (CSC) funded the CSC scholarship to Y.S.
Countries: United Kingdom

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