Date of Award:

2017

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Advisor/Chair:

Yujie Sun

Abstract

Conversion of renewable energy resources (such as solar and wind) through water splitting to hydrogen and oxygen has attracted increasing attention. The sole product of hydrogen combustion is water, rendering a carbon-neutral energy cycle. Water splitting consists of two redox half reactions: hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Both of these two transformations involve multi- electron/proton movement and thus are kinetically sluggish. In order to accelerate the reaction rates for practical application, efficient catalysts are needed. State-of-the-art catalysts for water splitting are usually composed of noble metals, such as platinum, ruthenium, and iridium, whose scarcity and high cost limit their wide employment. Consequently, it is of critical importance to develop competent and non-precious catalysts via low-cost preparation.

Owing to the thermodynamic convenience and potential application in proton exchange membrane and alkaline electrolyzers, traditionally, most HER catalysts were developed under strongly acidic conditions while OER catalysts under strongly alkaline conditions. In order to accomplish overall water splitting, the coupling of HER and OER catalysts in the same electrolyte is mandatory. This thesis will summarize our recent efforts towards developing 1st-row transition metal-based sulfides and phosphides for electrocatalytic water splitting under ambient conditions.

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