Synthesis & characterization of mesoporous zinc cobaltite thin films and its electrochemical application for OER
Transition metal cobaltite materials were widely used as electrode material due to their excellent electrochemical performance, flexibility to be prepared with different morphologies and, high surface area. In this thesis, mesoporous zinc cobaltite thin films were synthesized in cubic spinel structure via molten-salt assisted surfactant assembly (MASA) method with a high surface area and its electro-catalytic performance in oxygen evolution reaction (OER) was analyzed. Clear and homogenous aqueous solution of surfactants (P123 and CTAB), zinc nitrate hexahydrate and cobalt(II) nitrate hexahydrate (as precursors) are coated on glass substrate to obtain mesophases, thereafter mesophases are calcined to synthesize mesoporous zinc cobaltite (denoted as m-ZnCo) as powder. m-ZnCo-60 (with a total salt/P123 ratio of 60) samples were synthesized with a smooth film morphology and maximum surface area of 102 m2/g.
The mesophases with different compositions were analyzed using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) technique. The line(s) between 1.5 and 2°, 2θ, in the XRD pattern is an indication for the formation of ordered lyotropic liquid crystalline mesophase. Aging of the mesophase was monitored via XRD and POM techniques to establish its stability. The stable mesophases were used to synthesize m-ZnCo film and powder samples. The powder samples were collected after calcination process and characterized by XRD, N2 adsorption-desorption, SEM, HR-TEM techniques.
The precursor solutions were spin coated on half of 1cm x 2cm size FTO glasses, then calcined and used in three-electrode system as working electrodes. The electrocatalytic performance of the materials was analyzed by cyclic voltammetry (CV), chronopotentiometry (CP), and chronoamperometry (CA) experiments for oxygen evolution reaction (OER). All electrodes were stable up to 100 mA/cm2 current density and displayed minimum Tafel slope value of 41 mV/dec.
Mesoporous zinc cobaltite materials were also synthesized through precursor solutions without CTAB. Removing CTAB from the synthesis results films with rougher surface and reduced crystallinity. Same techniques were also employed for characterization. The prepared electrodes of non-CTAB samples exhibited a lower Tafel slope of 40 mV/dec and overpotential of 256 mV at 1mA/cm2 current density. In addition, silica templated mesoporous zinc cobaltite was synthesized by adding TMOS to the precursor solution of ZnCo-60 to increase the surface area, the calcined samples were denoted m-ZnCo-60-S20-300 (S20 is represents 20 TMOS/P123 mole ratio). The m-ZnCo-60-S20-300 sample has the highest specific surface area of 215 m2/g. However, despite having higher surface area due to high resistance of silica material, silicated samples exhibited higher overpotential values.