Efficient electrocatalysis of overall water splitting by ultrasmall NixCo3−xS4 coupled Ni3S2 nanosheet arrays

Yuanyuan Wu, Yipu Liu, Guo Dong Li, Xu Zou, Xinran Lian, Dejun Wang, Lei Sun, Tewodros Asefa, Xiaoxin Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Citations (Scopus)


The overall water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the most promising ways to store intermittent solar and wind energy in the form of chemical fuels. However, this process is quite thermodynamically uphill, and thus needs to be mediated simultaneously by efficient hydrogen evolving and oxygen evolving catalysts to get any feasible output from it. Herein, we report the synthesis of such a catalyst comprising ultrasmall NixCo3−xS4-decorated Ni3S2 nanosheet arrays supported on nickel foam (NF) via a partial cation exchange reaction between NF-supported Ni3S2 nanosheet arrays and cobalt(II) ions. We show that the as-prepared material, denoted as NixCo3−xS4/Ni3S2/NF, can serve as a self-standing, noble metal-free, highly active and stable, bifunctional electrocatalyst for the two half reactions involved in the overall water splitting: the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Furthermore, we demonstrate that a high-performance electrolyzer for the overall water splitting reaction can be assembled by using NixCo3−xS4/Ni3S2/NF as the electrocatalyst at both the cathode and the anode sides of the electrolyzer. This electrolyzer delivers water-splitting current densities of 10 and 100 mA/cm2 at applied potentials of 1.53 and 1.80 V, respectively, with remarkable stability for >200 h in both cases. The electrolyzer's performance is much better than the performances of electrolyzers assembled from many types of other bifunctional electrocatalysts as catalyst couple. Moreover, the overall performance of the electrolyzer is comparable with the performances of electrolyzers containing two different, benchmark, monofunctional HER and OER electrocatalyst couple (i.e., Pt/C-IrO2).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
JournalNano Energy
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017


  • Cobalt sulfide
  • Composite material
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Nickel sulfide
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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