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Chemistry and Electrocatalytic Activity of Nanostructured Nickel Electrodes for Water Electrolysis


Ester López Fernandez; Jorge Gil Rostra; Juan Pedro Espinós; Agustín Gonzalez Elipe; Antonio de Lucas Consuegra; Francisco Yubero ACS Catalysis 2020, Vol. 10, 6159−6170

Herein we have developed nanostructured nickel-based electrode films for anion exchange membrane water electrolysis (AEMWE). The electrodes were prepared by magnetron sputtering (MS) in an oblique angle configuration and under various conditions aimed at preparing metallic, oxide, or oxyhydroxide films. Their electrochemical analysis has been complemented with a thorough physicochemical characterization to determine the effect of microstructure, chemical state, bilayer structure, and film thickness on the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). The maximum electrocatalytic activity was found for the metallic electrode, where analysis by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) demonstrated that the active catalytic phase at the surface after its electrochemical conditioning is a kind of oxidized nickel oxide/hydroxide layer with the thickness of a few nanometers. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy analysis of these steady-state working electrodes supports that the enhanced performance of the metallic nickel anode vs other chemical states resides in the easier electron transfer through the electrode films and the various interlayers built up during their fabrication and activation. The long-term steady-state operation of the anodes and their efficiency for water splitting was proved in a full-cell AEMWE setup incorporating magnetron- sputtered metallic nickel as the cathode. This work proves that MS is a suitable technique to prepare active, stable, and low- cost electrodes for AEMWE and the capacity of this technique to control the chemical state of the electrocatalytically active layers involved in the OER.


Ester López