Highly active and durable nanostructured molybdenum carbide electrocatalysts for hydrogen production

W. F. Chen, C. H. Wang, K. Sasaki, N. Marinkovic, W. Xu, J. T. Muckerman, Y. Zhu, R. R. Adzic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

694 Citations (Scopus)


In an attempt to tailor low-cost, precious-metal-free electrocatalysts for water electrolysis in acid, molybdenum carbide (β-Mo2C) nanoparticles are prepared by in situ carburization of ammonium molybdate on carbon nanotubes and XC-72R carbon black without using any gaseous carbon source. The formation of Mo2C is investigated by thermogravimetry and in situ X-ray diffraction. X-ray absorption analysis reveals that Mo 2C nanoparticles are inlaid or anchored into the carbon supports, and the electronic modification makes the surface exhibit a relatively moderate Mo-H bond strength. It is found that carbon nanotube-supported Mo2C showed superior electrocatalytic activity and stability in the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) compared to the bulk Mo2C. An overpotential of 63 mV for driving 1 mA cm-2 of current density was measured for the nanotube-supported Mo2C catalysts; this exceeds the activity of analogous Mo2C catalysts. The enhanced electrochemical activity is facilitated by unique effects of the anchored structure coupled with the electronic modification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-951
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution

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