High-performance and low-cost bifunctional electrocatalysts play crucial roles in oxygen reduction and evolution reactions. Herein, a novel three-dimensional (3D) bifunctional electrocatalyst was prepared by embedding CoO nanoparticles into nitrogen and sulfur co-doped carbon nanofiber networks (denoted as CoO@N/S-CNF) through a facile approach. The carbon nanofiber networks were derived from a nanostructured biological material which provided abundant functional groups to nucleate and anchor nanoparticles while retaining its interconnected 3D porous structure. The composite possesses a high specific surface area and graphitization degree, which favors both mass transport and charge transfer for electrochemical reaction. The CoO@N/S-CNF not only exhibits highly efficient catalytic activity towards oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline media with an onset potential of about 0.84 V, but also shows better stability and stronger resistance to methanol than Pt/C. Furthermore, it only needs an overpotential of 1.55 V to achieve a current density of 10 mA cm-2, suggesting that it is an efficient electrocatalyst for oxygen evolution reaction (OER). The ΔE value (oxygen electrode activity parameter) of CoO@N/S-CNF is calculated to be 0.828 V, which demonstrates that the composite could be a promising bifunctional electrocatalyst for both ORR and OER.
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