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Atomic scale analysis of the enhanced electro- and photo-catalytic activity in high-index faceted porous NiO nanowires.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Catalysts play a significant role in clean renewable hydrogen fuel generation through water splitting reaction as the surface of most semiconductors proper for water splitting has poor performance for hydrogen gas evolution. The catalytic performance strongly depends on the atomic arrangement at the surface, which necessitates the correlation of the surface structure to the catalytic activity in well-controlled catalyst surfaces. Herein, we report a novel catalytic performance of simple-synthesized porous NiO nanowires (NWs) as catalyst/co-catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The correlation of catalytic activity and atomic/surface structure is investigated by detailed high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) exhibiting a strong dependence of NiO NW photo- and electrocatalytic HER performance on the density of exposed high-index-facet (HIF) atoms, which corroborates with theoretical calculations. Significantly, the optimized porous NiO NWs offer long-term electrocatalytic stability of over one day and 45 times higher photocatalytic hydrogen production compared to commercial NiO nanoparticles. Our results open new perspectives in the search for the development of structurally stable and chemically active semiconductor-based catalysts for cost-effective and efficient hydrogen fuel production at large scale.

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