Bigger is Surprisingly Better: Agglomerates of Larger RuP Nanoparticles Outperform Benchmark Pt Nanocatalysts for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction
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© 2018 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Although metallic ruthenium (Ru) is a potential electrocatalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) to replace platinum (Pt) at a cost of only ˜4% of Pt, the persistent dissolution of Ru under operation conditions remains a challenge. Here, it is reported that agglomerates of large ruthenium phosphide (RuP) particles (L-RP, ˜32 nm) show outstanding HER performance in pH-universal electrolytes, which particularly demonstrates a surprisingly higher intrinsic activity and durability than small nanoparticles of RuP (S-RP, ˜3 nm) or metallic Ru on carbon supports. This is especially true in basic media, achieving electrocatalytic activity comparable to or even outperforming that of Pt/C, as reflected by lower overpotential at 10 mA cm-2, smaller Tafel slope, larger exchange current density, and higher turnover frequency while maintaining 200 h stable operation. Calculations suggest that ?GH* of RuP is much closer to zero than that of metallic Ru, and phosphorous doping is proven to enhance the rate of proton transfer in HER, contributing in part to the improved activity of RuP. The better performance of L-RP than that of S-RP is ascribed largely to the stabilization of the P species due to the lowered surface energy of large particles. Furthermore, the relatively low-cost materials and facile synthesis make L-RP/C a highly attractive next-generation HER electrocatalyst.