Cobalt-embedded nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes efficiently catalyze hydrogen evolution reaction at all pH values

Xiaoxin Zou, Xiaoxi Huang, Anandarup Goswami, Rafael Silva, Bhaskar R. Sathe, Eliška Mikmeková, Tewodros Asefa

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603 Citations (Scopus)


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. The water-splitting reaction still remains far from being practically feasible because of the unavailability of effective catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). A simple synthetic route gives to nitrogen-rich carbon nanotubes that electrocatalyze HER with activities close to that of Pt, and function well under acidic, neutral, or basic media allowing them to be coupled with the best oxygen-evolving catalysts available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4372-4376
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Apr 22 2014



  • carbon nanotubes
  • cobalt nanoparticles
  • electrocatalysis
  • hydrogen evolution reaction
  • water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)

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