Significant Enhancement of Water Splitting Activity of N-Carbon Electrocatalyst by Trace Level Co Doping

Bita Byatsarmadi, Yao Zheng, Youhong Tang, Mietek Jaroniec, Shizhang Qiao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    102 Citations (Scopus)


    Replacement of precious metal electrocatalysts with highly active and cost efficient alternatives for complete water splitting at low voltage has attracted a growing attention in recent years. Here, this study reports a carbon-based composite co-doped with nitrogen and trace amount of metallic cobalt (1 at%) as a bifunctional electrocatalyst for water splitting at low overpotential and high current density. An excellent electrochemical activity of the newly developed electrocatalyst originates from its graphitic nanostructure and highly active Co-Nx sites. In the case of carefully optimized sample of this electrocatalyst, 10 mA cm−2 current density can be achieved for two half reactions in alkaline solutions—hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen evolution reaction—at low overpotentials of 220 and 350 mV, respectively, which are smaller than those previously reported for nonprecious metal and metal-free counterparts. Based on the spectroscopic and electrochemical investigations, the newly identified Co-Nx sites in the carbon framework are responsible for high electrocatalytic activity of the Co,N-doped carbon. This study indicates that a trace level of the introduced Co into N-doped carbon can significantly enhance its electrocatalytic activity toward water splitting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3703-3711
    Number of pages9
    Issue number27
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2016


    • carbon nanosheets
    • co-doping
    • hydrogen evolution reaction
    • oxygen evolution reaction
    • water splitting


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