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Cobalt-Embedded Nitrogen-Rich Carbon Nanotubes Efficiently Catalyze Hydrogen Evolution Reaction at All pH Values

Authors

  • Dr. Xiaoxin Zou,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    2. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    3. State Key Laboratory of Inorganic Synthesis & Preparative Chemistry, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, 2699 Qianjin Street, Changchun 130012 (China)
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  • Xiaoxi Huang,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
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  • Dr. Anandarup Goswami,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    2. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
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  • Dr. Rafael Silva,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
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  • Dr. Bhaskar R. Sathe,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    2. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
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  • Eliška Mikmeková,

    1. Institute of Scientific Instruments of the ASCR, v.v.i. Kralovopolska 147, Brno 612 64 (Czech Republic)
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  • Prof. Tewodros Asefa

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    2. Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)
    • Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854 (USA)

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  • T.A. gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the National Science Foundation (DMR-0968937, CBET-1134289, NSF-ACIF, and NSF Special Creativity grant).

Abstract

Despite being technically possible, splitting water to generate hydrogen is still practically unfeasible due mainly to the lack of sustainable and efficient catalysts for the half reactions involved. Herein we report the synthesis of cobalt-embedded nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes (NRCNTs) that 1) can efficiently electrocatalyze the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) with activities close to that of Pt and 2) function well under acidic, neutral or basic media alike, allowing them to be coupled with the best available oxygen-evolving catalysts—which also play crucial roles in the overall water-splitting reaction. The materials are synthesized by a simple, easily scalable synthetic route involving thermal treatment of Co2+-embedded graphitic carbon nitride derived from inexpensive starting materials (dicyandiamide and CoCl2). The materials’ efficient catalytic activity is mainly attributed to their nitrogen dopants and concomitant structural defects.

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