Operando Analysis of NiFe and Fe Oxyhydroxide Electrocatalysts for Water Oxidation: Detection of Fe⁴⁺ by Mössbauer Spectroscopy

J Am Chem Soc. 2015 Dec 9;137(48):15090-3. doi: 10.1021/jacs.5b10699. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Nickel-iron oxides/hydroxides are among the most active electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction. In an effort to gain insight into the role of Fe in these catalysts, we have performed operando Mössbauer spectroscopic studies of a 3:1 Ni:Fe layered hydroxide and a hydrous Fe oxide electrocatalyst. The catalysts were prepared by a hydrothermal precipitation method that enabled catalyst growth directly on carbon paper electrodes. Fe(4+) species were detected in the NiFe hydroxide catalyst during steady-state water oxidation, accounting for up to 21% of the total Fe. In contrast, no Fe(4+) was detected in the Fe oxide catalyst. The observed Fe(4+) species are not kinetically competent to serve as the active site in water oxidation; however, their presence has important implications for the role of Fe in NiFe oxide electrocatalysts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.