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Tunable metal hydroxide–organic frameworks for catalysing oxygen evolution


The oxygen evolution reaction is central to making chemicals and energy carriers using electrons. Combining the great tunability of enzymatic systems with known oxide-based catalysts can create breakthrough opportunities to achieve both high activity and stability. Here we report a series of metal hydroxide–organic frameworks (MHOFs) synthesized by transforming layered hydroxides into two-dimensional sheets crosslinked using aromatic carboxylate linkers. MHOFs act as a tunable catalytic platform for the oxygen evolution reaction, where the π–π interactions between adjacent stacked linkers dictate stability, while the nature of transition metals in the hydroxides modulates catalytic activity. Substituting Ni-based MHOFs with acidic cations or electron-withdrawing linkers enhances oxygen evolution reaction activity by over three orders of magnitude per metal site, with Fe substitution achieving a mass activity of 80 A \({\rm{g}}_{\rm{catalyst}}^{-1}\) at 0.3 V overpotential for 20 h. Density functional theory calculations correlate the enhanced oxygen evolution reaction activity with the MHOF-based modulation of Ni redox and the optimized binding of oxygenated intermediates.

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Fig. 1: Structural design and stability optimization of MHOFs.
Fig. 2: Synthesis of MHOF nanosheets.
Fig. 3: Tuning the electronic structure of M/Ni2(OH)2(L4) nanosheets.
Fig. 4: Tuning the OER activity of M/Ni2(OH)2(L4) nanosheets.
Fig. 5: Activity optimization of Fe/Ni2(OH)2(L4) nanosheets.

Data availability

The X-ray crystallographic data for structures reported in this article have been deposited at the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) under deposition numbers CCDC 2120871, 2120868, 2120869 and 2120870 for Ni2(OH)2(L1), Ni2(OH)2(L2), Ni2(OH)2(L3) and Ni2(OH)2(L4), respectively, which can be obtained from the CCDC via All other data that support the results in this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the Toyota Research Institute through the Accelerated Materials Design and Discovery programme. This work made use of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers Shared Experimental Facilities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology supported by the National Science Foundation under award number DMR-1419807, as well as the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf Ion Beam Center TEM facilities. The structural characterization was supported by the CATSS project from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW 2016.0072) and the Swedish Research Council (VR, 2017-04321, 2016-04625). This work was performed in part at the Center for Nanoscale Systems, a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure Network, which is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF award number 1541959. The Center for Nanoscale Systems is part of Harvard University. Use of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under contract no. DE-AC02-76SF00515. This research used resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility supported by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231. This work used the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, which is supported by National Science Foundation grant number ACI-1548562.

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Authors and Affiliations



Y.S.-H., Y.R.-L., S.Y. and B.C. conceived the original idea. S.Y. performed the synthesis. S.Y., J.P. and B.C. performed the electrochemical measurements and data analysis. J.P. and L.G. conducted the DFT calculations. Z.H., R.H. and X.Z. performed the TEM analysis. A.T.G.-E. and D.S. conducted the X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements and data analysis. J.P., Y.Z., K.A. and Y.G.Z. performed the XPS, diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectra, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy measurements. S.Y., J.P., B.C., Y.S.-H. and Y.R.-L. draughted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yuriy Román-Leshkov or Yang Shao-Horn.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–50, Tables 1–20, Notes 1–8 and Methods.

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Yuan, S., Peng, J., Cai, B. et al. Tunable metal hydroxide–organic frameworks for catalysing oxygen evolution. Nat. Mater. 21, 673–680 (2022).

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