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Coordination polymer structure and revisited hydrogen evolution catalytic mechanism for amorphous molybdenum sulfide

Nature Materials volume 15, pages 640646 (2016) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Molybdenum sulfides are very attractive noble-metal-free electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) from water. The atomic structure and identity of the catalytically active sites have been well established for crystalline molybdenum disulfide (c-MoS2) but not for amorphous molybdenum sulfide (a-MoSx), which exhibits significantly higher HER activity compared to its crystalline counterpart. Here we show that HER-active a-MoSx, prepared either as nanoparticles or as films, is a molecular-based coordination polymer consisting of discrete [Mo3S13]2− building blocks. Of the three terminal disulfide (S22−) ligands within these clusters, two are shared to form the polymer chain. The third one remains free and generates molybdenum hydride moieties as the active site under H2 evolution conditions. Such a molecular structure therefore provides a basis for revisiting the mechanism of a-MoSx catalytic activity, as well as explaining some of its special properties such as reductive activation and corrosion. Our findings open up new avenues for the rational optimization of this HER electrocatalyst as an alternative to platinum.

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Acknowledgements

P.D.T. and J.B. acknowledge the Energy Research Institute @ Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N) and the Singapore-Berkeley Research Initiative for Sustainable Energy (SinBeRISE) CREATE for financial and facilities supports. P.D.T. acknowledges University of Science and Technology of Hanoi for startup funding support (project USTH PECH2). Q.D.T. and I.H. acknowledge the Japan Society for Promotion of Science for financial support (Grant No. P13070). This work was supported by the French National Research Agency (Labex program, ARCANE, ANR-11-LABX-0003-01) and the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC Grant Agreement n.306398. J. Pérard is gratefully acknowledged for his help during ICP-AES measurements.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Energy Research Institute, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637553, Singapore

    • Phong D. Tran
  2. Solar Fuel Laboratory, School of Materials Science & Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore

    • Phong D. Tran
    •  & James Barber
  3. Department of Advanced Materials Science and Nanotechnology, University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, 18 Hoang Quoc Viet, Hanoi, Vietnam

    • Phong D. Tran
  4. Electronics-Inspired Interdisplinary Research Institute, Toyohashi University of Technology, 1-1 Hibarigaoka, Tempaku, Toyohashi 441-8580, Japan

    • Thu V. Tran
  5. Institut des Sciences Moléculaires de Marseille, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Centrale Marseille, ISM2 UMR 7313, 13397 Marseille, France

    • Maylis Orio
  6. Laboratoire de Chimie et Biologie des Métaux, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, CEA, 17 rue des Martyrs, 38054 Grenoble, France

    • Stephane Torelli
    •  & Vincent Artero
  7. Institute of Multidisciplinary Research for Advanced Materials, Tohoku University, 2-1-1 Katahira, Aobaku, Sendai 980-8577, Japan

    • Quang Duc Truong
    •  & Itaru Honma
  8. Field Solution Division, JEOL Ltd, 1156 Nakagami, Akishima, Tokyo 196-0022, Japan

    • Keiichiro Nayuki
    •  & Yoshikazu Sasaki
  9. Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), 3 Research Link, Singapore 117602, Singapore

    • Sing Yang Chiam
    •  & Ren Yi
  10. Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

    • James Barber

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Contributions

P.D.T. and V.A. designed research and performed material synthesis and electrochemical studies. T.V.T. performed resonance Raman analysis. Q.D.T., K.N., Y.S. and I.H. performed and analysed STEM studies. S.Y.C. and R.Y. performed XPS studies. S.T. and V.A. performed and analysed EPR studies. M.O. performed DFT calculations. P.D.T., V.A. and J.B. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Phong D. Tran or Vincent Artero.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4588

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