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Keywords:

  • electrochemistry;
  • gas-evolving reactions;
  • Raman spectroscopy;
  • reaction mechanisms;
  • solvent effects

Abstract

The reaction path of the Cl2 evolution reaction (CER) was investigated by combining electrochemical and spectroscopic methods. It is shown that oxidation and reconstruction of the catalyst surface during CER is a consequence of the interaction between RuO2 and water. The state of the RuO2 surface during the electrochemical reaction was analyzed in situ by using Raman spectroscopy to monitor vibrations of the crystal lattice of RuO2 and changes in the surface concentration of the adsorbed species as a function of the electrode potential. The role of the solvent was recognized as being crucial in the formation of an oxygen-containing hydrophilic layer, which is a key prerequisite for electrocatalytic Cl2 formation. Water (more precisely the OH adlayer) is understood not just as a medium that allows adsorption of intermediates, but also as an integral part of the intermediate formed during the electrochemical reaction. New insights into the general understanding of electrocatalysis were obtained by utilizing the vibration frequencies of the crystal lattice as a dynamic catalytic descriptor instead of thermodynamic descriptors, such as the adsorption energy of intermediates. Interpretation of the derived “volcano” curve suggests that electrocatalysis is governed by a resonance phenomenon.