Atomic layer deposition of Co3O4 nanocrystals on N-doped electrospun carbon nanofibers for oxygen reduction and oxygen evolution reactions
The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are considered as the two crucial reactions in key renewable-energy technologies including fuel cells and water splitting. Despite promising research progress in the preparation of various non-noble metal based electrocatalysts, it is still highly challenging but desirable to develop novel fabrication strategies to synthesize highly active and cost-effective ORR/OER bifunctional electrocatalysts in a precisely controlled manner. Herein, we report atomic layer deposition (ALD) of highly monodisperse Co3O4 nanocrystals of different sizes on N-doped electrospun carbon nanofibers (nCNFs) as high performance bifunctional catalysts (Co@nCNFs) for the ORR and OER. Co@nCNFs (with an average Co3O4 particle size of ∼3 nm) show high ORR performance exhibiting an onset potential of 0.87 V with a low Tafel slope of 119 mV dec−1 approaching that of commercial Pt/C. Similarly, the Co@nCNF electrocatalyst showed remarkable catalytic activity in the OER. The turnover frequency (TOF) value determined at an overpotential of 550 mV for the Co@nCNFs is ∼0.14 s−1 which is ca. 3 and ca. 15-fold higher than those of bulk Co (∼0.05 s−1) and the standard state-of-the-art IrOx (0.0089 s−1) catalyst, respectively. This work will open new possibilities for fabrication of inexpensive non-noble metal materials in highly controlled manner for applications as bifunctional ORR/OER electrocatalysis.