Unusual Activity of Rationally Designed Cobalt Phosphide/Oxide Heterostructure Composite for Hydrogen Production in Alkaline Medium

Merfat M. Alsabban, Mathan Kumar Eswaran, Karthik Peramaiah, Wandi Wahyudi, Xiulin Yang, Vinoth Ramalingam, Mohamed N. Hedhili, Xiaohe Miao, Udo Schwingenschlögl, Lain Jong Li*, Vincent Tung*, Kuo Wei Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Design and development of an efficient, nonprecious catalyst with structural features and functionality necessary for driving the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in an alkaline medium remain a formidable challenge. At the root of the functional limitation is the inability to tune the active catalytic sites while overcoming the poor reaction kinetics observed under basic conditions. Herein, we report a facile approach to enable the selective design of an electrochemically efficient cobalt phosphide oxide composite catalyst on carbon cloth (CoP-CoxOy/CC), with good activity and durability toward HER in alkaline medium (η10= -43 mV). Theoretical studies revealed that the redistribution of electrons at laterally dispersed Co phosphide/oxide interfaces gives rise to a synergistic effect in the heterostructured composite, by which various Co oxide phases initiate the dissociation of the alkaline water molecule. Meanwhile, the highly active CoP further facilitates the adsorption-desorption process of water electrolysis, leading to extremely high HER activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3906-3916
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for generous financial support. V.T. is indebted to the support from the KAUST Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No: OSR-2018-CARF/CCF-3079. We thank the anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments to improve our mechanistic discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


  • cobalt mixed oxides
  • cobalt phosphide
  • electrochemical catalyst
  • hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)
  • phosphatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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