Despite tremendous progress in the development of novel electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), the accumulation of hydrogen gas bubbles produced on the catalyst surface has been rather poorly addressed. The bubbles block the surface of the electrode, thus resulting in poor performance even when excellent electrocatalysts are used. In this study, we show that vertically grown graphene nanohills (VGNHs) possess an excellent capability to quickly disengage the produced hydrogen gas bubbles from the electrode surface, and thus exhibit superaerophobic properties. To compensate for the poor electrolytic properties of graphene toward HER, the graphene surface was modified with WS2 nanoparticles to accelerate the water-splitting process by using this hybrid catalyst (VGNHs-WS2). For comparison purposes, WS2 nanoparticles were also deposited on the flat graphene (FG) surface. Because of its superior superaerophobic properties, VGNHs-WS2 outperformed FG-WS2 in terms of both catalytic activity toward the HER and superaerophobicity. Furthermore, VGNHs-WS2 exhibited a low onset potential (36 mV compared to 288 mV for FG-WS2) and long-term stability in the HER over an extended period of 20 h. This study provides an efficient way to utilize highly conductive and superaerophobic VGNHs as support materials for intrinsic semiconductors, such as WS2, to simultaneously achieve superaerophobicity and high catalytic activity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (Nos. 2010-0020207, 2011-0030786, 2014R1A2A2A01005963, 2016R1E1A1A01942649, 2017R1A2B4002442).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)