Effects of Superparamagnetic Iron Nanoparticles on Electrocatalysts for the Reduction of Oxygen

Talha Al-Zoubi, Wei Gao, Charles E. Schulz, Duan Luo, Angela M. Diascro, Jianguo Wen, Andrew A. Gewirth, Hong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is of great research interest to understand the nanostructures contributing to the activity observed in the reduction of oxygen by non-platinum group metal (PGM) electrocatalysts in acidic media. Iron- and nitrogen-containing carbon networks are often the most studied structures, among which single-atom iron-coordinated nitrogen (FeNx) moieties have often been proposed to be the structures leading to the high activity in these non-PGM electrocatalysts. Iron nanoparticles embedded within a carbon support are also formed under certain conditions as a result of the synthetic processes in making non-PGM electrocatalysts. In this study, we present a study to understand the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity of prepared iron- and nitrogen-containing non-PGM electrocatalysts obtained through the pyrolysis of metal-organic framework (MOF) precursors. We studied the structure-property relationship among nanostructures made from the MOF precursor ZIF-8 under different pyrolysis conditions. Density functional theory calculations were used to explain the effect of structural moieties on the ORR activity. Our results suggest that iron-coordinated C-N structures and iron nanoparticles act synergistically to catalyze the ORR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4236-4242
Number of pages7
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 5 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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