To explore high-performance electrocatalysts, electronic regulation on active sites is essentially demanded. Herein, we propose controlled phosphorus doping to effectively modify the electronic configuration of nanostructured Mo 2 C, accomplishing a benchmark performance of noble-metal-free electrocatalysts in the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Employing MoO x -phytic acid-polyaniline hybrids with tunable composition as precursors, a series of hierarchical nanowires composed of phosphorus-doped Mo 2 C nanoparticles evenly integrated within conducting carbon (denoted as P-Mo 2 C@C) are successfully obtained via facile pyrolysis under inert flow. Remarkably, P-doping into Mo 2 C can increase the electron density around the Fermi level of Mo 2 C, leading to weakened Mo-H bonding toward promoted HER kinetics. Further density functional theory calculations show that the negative hydrogen-binding free energy (ΔG H∗ ) on pristine Mo 2 C gradually increases with P-doping due to electron transfer and steric hindrance by P on the Mo 2 C surface, indicating the effectively weakened strength of Mo-H. With optimal doping, a ΔG H∗ approaching 0 eV suggests a good balance between the Volmer and Heyrovsky/Tafel steps in HER kinetics. As expected, the P-Mo 2 C@C nanowires with controlled P-doping (P: 2.9 wt%) deliver a low overpotential of 89 mV at a current density of -10 mA cm -2 and striking kinetic metrics (onset overpotential: 35 mV, Tafel slope: 42 mV dec -1 ) in acidic electrolytes, outperforming most of the current noble-metal-free electrocatalysts. Elucidating feasible electronic regulation and the remarkably enhanced catalysis associated with controlled P-doping, our work will pave the way for developing efficient noble-metal-free catalysts via rational surface engineering.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering