Local atomic structure modulations activate metal oxide as electrocatalyst for hydrogen evolution in acidic water
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Modifications of local structure at atomic level could precisely and effectively tune the capacity of materials, enabling enhancement in the catalytic activity. Here we modulate the local atomic structure of a classical but inert transition metal oxide, tungsten trioxide, to be an efficient electrocatalyst for hydrogen evolution in acidic water, which has shown promise as an alternative to platinum. Structural analyses and theoretical calculations together indicate that the origin of the enhanced activity could be attributed to the tailored electronic structure by means of the local atomic structure modulations. We anticipate that suitable structure modulations might be applied on other transition metal oxides to meet the optimal thermodynamic and kinetic requirements, which may pave the way to unlock the potential of other promising candidates as cost-effective electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution in industry.
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Atomic and Molecular Physics