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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry