High-Performance Overall Water Splitting Electrocatalysts Derived from Cobalt-Based Metal–Organic Frameworks

The design of active, robust, and nonprecious electrocatalysts with both H2 and O2 evolution reaction (HER and OER) activities for overall water splitting is highly desirable but remains a grand challenge. Herein, we report a facile two-step method to synthesize porous Co-P/NC nanopolyhedrons composed of CoPx (a mixture of CoP and Co2P) nanoparticles embedded in N-doped carbon matrices as electrocatalysts for overall water splitting. The Co-P/NC catalysts were prepared by direct carbonization of Co-based zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF-67) followed by phosphidation. Benefiting from the large specific surface area, controllable pore texture, and high nitrogen content of ZIF (a subclass of metal–organic frameworks), the optimal Co-P/NC showed high specific surface area of 183 m2 g–1 and large mesopores, and exhibited remarkable catalytic performance for both HER and OER in 1.0 M KOH, affording a current density of 10 mA cm–2 at low overpotentials of −154 mV for HER and 319 mV for OER, respectively. Furthermore, a Co-P/NC-based alkaline electrolyzer approached 165 mA cm–2 at 2.0 V, superior to that of Pt/IrO2 couple, along with strong stability. Various characterization techniques including X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) revealed that the superior activity and strong stability of Co-P/NC originated from its 3D interconnected mesoporosity with high specific surface area, high conductivity, and synergistic effect of CoPx encapsulated within N-doped carbon matrices.