A simple, yet versatile strategy to prepare size-controlled and monodisperse carbon sub-micrometer spheres is developed based on the biomolecule dopamine. Unlike traditional carbon materials, the resulting carbon sub-micrometer spheres contain much less sp3 carbon with high-level electroactive nitrogen. Moreover, metal–carbon hybrid sub-micrometer spheres can be easily obtained, and show highly promising catalytic properties in the oxygen-reduction reaction.
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