The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) on Ni in alkaline media was investigated by scanning electrochemical microscopy under two operating modes. First, the substrate generation/tip collection mode was employed to extract the “true” cathodic current associated with the HER from the total current in the polarization curve. Compared to metallic Ni, the electrocatalytic activity of the HER is improved in the presence of the low-valence-state oxide of Ni. This result is in agreement with a previous claim that the dissociative adsorption of water can be enhanced at the Ni/Ni oxide interface. Second, the surface-interrogation scanning electrochemical microscopy (SI-SECM) mode was used to directly measure the coverage of the adsorbed hydrogen on Ni at given potentials. Simulation indicates that the hydrogen coverage follows a Frumkin isotherm with respect to the applied potential. On the basis of the combined analysis of the Tafel slope and surface hydrogen coverage, the rate-determining step is suggested to be the adsorption of hydrogen (Volmer step) in the investigated potential window.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was financially supported by the National Science Foundation (CHE-1405248) and the Welch Foundation (F-0021). Z.X.L. is grateful for the support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21676106, 21476087).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry