Author(s) Delley, M.F.; Wu, Z.; Mundy, E.; Ung, D.; Cossairt, B.M.; Wang, H.; Mayer, J.M.
Journal J Am Chem Soc
Date Published 2019 09 25

Cobalt phosphide (CoP) is one of the most promising earth-abundant replacements for noble metal catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Critical to HER is the binding of H atoms. While theoretical studies have computed preferred sites and energetics of hydrogen bound to transition metal phosphide surfaces, direct experimental studies are scarce. Herein, we describe measurements of stoichiometry and thermochemistry for hydrogen bound to CoP. We studied both mesoscale CoP particles, exhibiting phosphide surfaces after an acidic pretreatment, and colloidal CoP nanoparticles. Treatment with H introduced large amounts of reactive hydrogen to CoP, ca. 0.2 H per CoP unit, and on the order of one H per Co or P surface atom. This was quantified using alkyne hydrogenation and H-atom transfer reactions with phenoxy radicals. Reactive H atoms were even present on the as-prepared materials. On the basis of the reactivity of CoP with various molecular hydrogen donating and accepting reagents, the distribution of binding free energies for H atoms on CoP was estimated to be roughly 51-66 kcal mol (Δ° ≅ 0 to -0.7 eV vs H). Operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy gave preliminary indications about the structure of hydrogenated CoP, showing a slight lattice expansion and no significant change of the effective nuclear charge of Co under H-flow. These results provide a new picture of catalytically active CoP, with a substantial amount of reactive H atoms. This is likely of fundamental relevance for its catalytic and electrocatalytic properties. Additionally, the approach developed here provides a roadmap to examine hydrogen on other materials.

DOI 10.1021/jacs.9b07986
ISSN 1520-5126
Citation J Am Chem Soc. 2019;141(38):1539015402.

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