An efficient and pH-universal ruthenium-based catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction

Javeed Mahmood, Feng Li, Sun Min Jung, Mahmut Sait Okyay, Ishfaq Ahmad, Seok Jin Kim, Noejung Park, Hu Young Jeong, Jong Beom Baek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1281 Scopus citations


The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is a crucial step in electrochemical water splitting and demands an efficient, durable and cheap catalyst if it is to succeed in real applications. For an energy-efficient HER, a catalyst must be able to trigger proton reduction with minimal overpotential and have fast kinetics. The most efficient catalysts in acidic media are platinum-based, as the strength of the Pt-H bond is associated with the fastest reaction rate for the HER. The use of platinum, however, raises issues linked to cost and stability in non-acidic media. Recently, non-precious-metal-based catalysts have been reported, but these are susceptible to acid corrosion and are typically much inferior to Pt-based catalysts, exhibiting higher overpotentials and lower stability. As a cheaper alternative to platinum, ruthenium possesses a similar bond strength with hydrogen (∼65 kcal mol -1)16, but has never been studied as a viable alternative for a HER catalyst. Here, we report a Ru-based catalyst for the HER that can operate both in acidic and alkaline media. Our catalyst is made of Ru nanoparticles dispersed within a nitrogenated holey two-dimensional carbon structure (Ru@C2N). The Ru@C2N electrocatalyst exhibits high turnover frequencies at 25 mV (0.67 H2 s-1 in 0.5 M H2SO4 solution; 0.75 H2s-1 in 1.0 M KOH solution) and small overpotentials at 10 mA cm-2 (13.5 mV in 0.5 MH2SO4 solution; 17.0 mV in 1.0 M KOH solution) as well as superior stability in both acidic and alkaline media. These performances are comparable to, or even better than, the Pt/C catalyst for the HER.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-446
Number of pages6
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

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