Cu-doped carbon nitride: Bio-inspired synthesis of H 2 -evolving electrocatalysts using graphitic carbon nitride (g-C 3 N 4 ) as a host material

Xiaoxin Zou, Rafael Silva, Anandarup Goswami, Tewodros Asefa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Splitting water effectively to produce hydrogen (H 2 ) requires the development of non-noble-metal electrocatalysts that are able to make this reaction feasible and energy efficient. Herein, we present a novel "structure upgrading" synthetic approach for the design and synthesis of bio-inspired hydrogen-evolving electrocatalysts based on earth-abundant elements. Using g-C 3 N 4 - an inexpensive inorganic polymer material - as a host material for copper ions, novel Cu-doped g-C 3 N 4 materials with supramolecular structure, efficient electrocatalytic activity and modest overpotentials for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) are synthesized. Compared with most single-molecule analogs of hydrogenases that work only in organic media, the supramolecular Cu-doped g-C 3 N 4 materials can serve as heterogeneous electrocatalysts with greater stability and good catalytic activity for HER in aqueous media. The materials afford a current density as high as 10 mA cm -2 at an overpotential as low as 390 mV, and work well in acidic media for, at least, 43 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-228
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Carbon nitride
  • Copper ions
  • Electrocatalysis
  • H evolution
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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