Sub-50 nm Iron–Nitrogen-Doped Hollow Carbon Sphere-Encapsulated Iron Carbide Nanoparticles as Efficient Oxygen Reduction Catalysts

Haibo Tan, Yunqi Li, Jeonghun Kim, Toshiaki Takei, Zhongli Wang, Xingtao Xu, Jie Wang, Yoshio Bando, Yong Mook Kang, Jing Tang, Yusuke Yamauchi

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160 Citations (Scopus)


Sub-50 nm iron–nitrogen-doped hollow carbon sphere-encapsulated iron carbide nanoparticles (Fe3C-Fe,N/C) are synthesized by using a triblock copolymer of poly(styrene-b-2-vinylpyridine-b-ethylene oxide) as a soft template. Their typical features, including a large surface area (879.5 m2 g−1), small hollow size (≈16 nm), and nitrogen-doped mesoporous carbon shell, and encapsulated Fe3C nanoparticles generate a highly active oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) performance. Fe3C-Fe,N/C hollow spheres exhibit an ORR performance comparable to that of commercially available 20 wt% Pt/C in alkaline electrolyte, with a similar half-wave potential, an electron transfer number close to 4, and lower H2O2 yield of less than 5%. It also shows noticeable ORR catalytic activity under acidic conditions, with a high half-wave potential of 0.714 V, which is only 59 mV lower than that of 20 wt% Pt/C. Moreover, Fe3C-Fe,N/C has remarkable long-term durability and tolerance to methanol poisoning, exceeding Pt/C regardless of the electrolyte.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800120
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow (Grant No. FT150100479), JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Numbers 17H05393 and 17K19044), and the research fund by Qingdao University of Science and Technology. This work was partly supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (NRF-2017R1A2B3004383) and the International Energy Joint R&D Program of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP), granted financial resource from the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, Republic of Korea (Grant No. 20168510011350). The authors would like to thank New Innovative Technology (NIT) for helpful suggestions and discussions on materials fabrication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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