"Electrochemical tuning of layered lithium transition metal oxides for improvement of oxygen evolution reaction"

Zhiyi Lu: Haotian Wang, Desheng Kong, Kai Yan, Po-Chun Hsu, Guangyuan Zheng, Hongbin Yao, Zheng Liang, Xiaoming Sun & Yi Cui; Nature Communications, 07/04/14.

Additional Authors: Haotian Wang, Desheng Kong, Kai Yan, Po-Chun Hsu, Guangyuan Zheng, Hongbin Yao, Zheng Liang, Xiaoming Sun & Yi Cui

Abstract:

Searching for low-cost and efficient catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction has been actively pursued owing to its importance in clean energy generation and storage. While developing new catalysts is important, tuning the electronic structure of existing catalysts over a wide electrochemical potential range can also offer a new direction. Here we demonstrate a method for electrochemical lithium tuning of catalytic materials in organic electrolyte for subsequent enhancement of the catalytic activity in aqueous solution. By continuously extracting lithium ions out of LiCoO2, a popular cathode material in lithium ion batteries, to Li0.5CoO2 in organic electrolyte, the catalytic activity is significantly improved. This enhancement is ascribed to the unique electronic structure after the delithiation process. The general efficacy of this methodology is demonstrated in several mixed metal oxides with similar improvements. The electrochemically delithiated LiCo0.33Ni0.33Fe0.33O2 exhibits a notable performance, better than the benchmark iridium/carbon catalyst.