Films of CoP have been electrochemically synthesized, characterized, and evaluated for performance as a catalyst for the hydrogen-evolution reaction (HER). The film was synthesized by cathodic deposition from a boric acid solution of Co2+ and H2PO2 - on copper substrates followed by operando remediation of exogenous contaminants. The films were characterized structurally and compositionally by scanning-electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and Raman spectrophotometry. The catalytic activity was evaluated by cyclic voltammetry and chronopotentiometry. Surface characterization prior to electrocatalysis indicated that the film consisted of micrometer-sized spherical clusters located randomly and loosely on a slightly roughened surface. The composition of both the clusters and surface consisted of cobalt in the metallic, phosphide, and amorphous-oxide forms (CoO·Co2O3) and of phosphorus as phosphide and orthophosphate. The orthophosphate species, produced by air-oxidation, were eliminated upon HER electrocatalysis in sulfuric acid. The operando film purification yielded a functional electrocatalyst with a Co:P stoichiometric ratio of 1:1. After the HER, the surface was densely packed with micrometer-sized, mesa-like particles whose tops were flat and smooth. The CoP eletrodeposit exhibited an 85 mV overvoltage (η) for the HER at a current density of 10 mA cm-2 and was stable under operation in highly acidic solution, with an increase in η of 18 mV after 24 h of continuous operation. The comparative HER catalytic performance of CoP, film or nanoparticles, is as follows: ηPt < ηCoP film = ηCoP NP, ηNi2P < ηCoSe2 < ηMoS2 < ηMoSe2.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films