Photochemical route for accessing amorphous metal oxide materials for water oxidation catalysis

Science. 2013 Apr 5;340(6128):60-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1233638. Epub 2013 Mar 28.


Large-scale electrolysis of water for hydrogen generation requires better catalysts to lower the kinetic barriers associated with the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Although most OER catalysts are based on crystalline mixed-metal oxides, high activities can also be achieved with amorphous phases. Methods for producing amorphous materials, however, are not typically amenable to mixed-metal compositions. We demonstrate that a low-temperature process, photochemical metal-organic deposition, can produce amorphous (mixed) metal oxide films for OER catalysis. The films contain a homogeneous distribution of metals with compositions that can be accurately controlled. The catalytic properties of amorphous iron oxide prepared with this technique are superior to those of hematite, whereas the catalytic properties of a-Fe(100-y-z)Co(y)Ni(z)O(x) are comparable to those of noble metal oxide catalysts currently used in commercial electrolyzers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't