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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Sep 14;133(36):14431-42. doi: 10.1021/ja205647m. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Electrochemical water oxidation with cobalt-based electrocatalysts from pH 0-14: the thermodynamic basis for catalyst structure, stability, and activity.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1101 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1322, USA.


Building upon recent study of cobalt-oxide electrocatalysts in fluoride-buffered electrolyte at pH 3.4, we have undertaken a mechanistic investigation of cobalt-catalyzed water oxidation in aqueous buffering electrolytes from pH 0-14. This work includes electrokinetic studies, cyclic voltammetric analysis, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopic studies. The results illuminate a set of interrelated mechanisms for electrochemical water oxidation in alkaline, neutral, and acidic media with electrodeposited Co-oxide catalyst films (CoO(x)(cf)s) as well as for a homogeneous Co-catalyzed electrochemical water oxidation reaction. Analysis of the pH dependence of quasi-reversible features in cyclic voltammograms of the CoO(x)(cf)s provides the basis for a Pourbaix diagram that closely resembles a Pourbaix diagram derived from thermodynamic free energies of formation for a family of Co-based layered materials. Below pH 3, a shift from heterogeneous catalysis producing O(2) to homogeneous catalysis yielding H(2)O(2) is observed. Collectively, the results reported here provide a foundation for understanding the structure, stability, and catalytic activity of aqueous cobalt electrocatalysts for water oxidation.

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