Surface activation of graphene nanoribbons for oxygen reduction reaction by nitrogen doping and defect engineering: An ab initio study
Here we used density functional theory to investigate the current-voltage characteristics and the distribution of catalytic active sites towards oxygen reduction of nitrogen-doped and defective graphene. The study highlights the importance of considering not only the interaction energy of reaction intermediates, but also the electrical conductivity of such configurations. The results were published in the journal of Carbon.
Joakim Ekspong, Nicolas Boulanger, Eduardo Gracia-Espino
Carbon (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2018.05.050
Introducing heteroatoms and creating structural defects on graphene is a common and rather successful strategy to transform its inert basal plane into an efficient metal-free electrocatalyst for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). However, the intricate atomic configuration of defective graphenes difficult their optimization as ORR electrocatalysts, where not only a large density of active sites is desirable, but also excellent electrical conductivity is required. Therefore, we used density functional theory to investigate the current-voltage characteristics and the catalytic active sites towards ORR of nitrogen-doped and defective graphene by using 8 zig-zag graphene nanoribbons as model systems. Detailed ORR catalytic activity maps are created for ten different systems showing the distribution of catalytic hot spots generated by each defect. Subsequently, the use of both current-voltage characteristics and catalytic activity maps allow to exclude inefficient systems that exhibit either low electrical conductivity or have adsorption energies far from optimal. Our study highlights the importance of considering not only the interaction energy of reaction intermediates to design electrocatalysts, but also the electrical conductivity of such configurations. We believe that this work is important for future experimental studies by providing insights on the use of graphene as a catalyst towards the ORR reaction.
Nano for Energy group
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