Ultrathin nickel terephthalate nanosheet three-dimensional aggregates with disordered layers for highly efficient overall urea electrolysis

Shasha Zheng, Yan Zheng, Huaiguo Xue, Huan Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The controlled synthesis of ultrathin metal-organic framework (MOF) nanosheets and the rational design of three-dimensional (3D) aggregates of these nanosheets are vital for electrochemical applications. Herein, ultrathin nickel terephthalate nanosheet 3D aggregates were synthesized by a facile one-pot hydrothermal method and employed as electrocatalysts for overall urea electrolysis. Surprisingly, the thickness of the nanosheets could be controlled by varying the synthesis time. A low-dose high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM) technique with spherical aberration corrected TEM was utilized to visualize the crystalline structures of the ultrathin MOF nanosheets. Interestingly, ~5 nm thick disordered layers were observed at the edges of the ultrathin nanosheets, plausibly induced by vacancies that could not be identified with conventional TEM. The 3D aggregates of the ultrathin nanosheets with disordered layers required an ultralow potential of 1.381 V for urea oxidation with a current density of 10 mA cm−2, which is 186 mV lower than that for the oxygen evolution reaction, and a potential of 1.52 V for overall urea electrolysis, with outstanding long-term durability. The amazing catalytic properties may be attributed to the adequate unsaturated coordination of nickel on the surface of the disordered layers, which guarantees numerous active sites; these results are consistent with the high-resolution TEM observations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125166
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Apr 25 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-14
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr Daliang Zhang for the TEM and HRTEM measurement in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1904215, 21673203, 21201010 and 21671170), the Top-notch Academic Programs Project of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (TAPP), Program for New Century Excellent Talents of the University in China (NCET-13-0645), the Six Talent Plan (2015-XCL-030), and Qinglan Project of Jiangsu and Program for Colleges Natural Science Research in Jiangsu Province (18KJB150036). We also acknowledge the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions and the technical support we received at the Testing Center of Yangzhou University.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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