A hierarchically porous nickel-copper phosphide nano-foam for efficient electrochemical splitting of water

Li Wei, Kunli Goh, Özgür Birer, H. Enis Karahan, Jian Chang, Shengli Zhai, Xuncai Chen, Yuan Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Electrochemical splitting of water to produce oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) through a cathodic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and an anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is a promising green approach for sustainable energy supply. Here we demonstrated a porous nickel-copper phosphide (NiCuP) nano-foam as a bifunctional electrocatalyst for highly efficient total water splitting. Prepared from a bubble-templated electrodeposition method and subsequent low-temperature phosphidization, NiCuP has a hierarchical pore structure with a large electrochemical active surface area. To reach a high current density of 50 mA cm−2, it requires merely 146 and 300 mV with small Tafel slopes of 47 and 49 mV dec−1 for HER and OER, respectively. The total water splitting test using NiCuP as both the anode and cathode showed nearly 100% Faradic efficiency and surpassed the performances of electrode pairs using commercial Pt/C and IrO2 catalysts under our test conditions. The high activity of NiCuP can be attributed to (1) the conductive NiCu substrates, (2) a large electrochemically active surface area together with a combination of pores of different sizes, and (3) the formation of active Ni/Cu oxides/hydroxides while keeping a portion of more conductive Ni/Cu phosphides in the nano-foam. We expect the current catalyst to enable the manufacturing of affordable water splitting systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4401-4408
Number of pages8
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 7 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Faculty of Engineering & Information Technologies, the University of Sydney, under the Faculty Research Cluster Program and Australian Research Council under the Future Fellowships scheme (FT160100107).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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