Research Article


2021, 14(4): 998–1003


Single copper sites dispersed on hierarchically porous carbon for improving oxygen reduction reaction towards zinc-air battery

Wenjie Wu1,§, Yan Liu2,§, Dong Liu3, Wenxing Chen4, Zhaoyi Song1, Ximin Wang1, Yamin Zheng2, Ning Lu2, Chunxia Wang1 (✉), Junjie Mao2 (✉), and Yadong Li5

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1 State Key Laboratory of Heavy Oil Processing, College of New Energy and Materials, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China
2 Key Laboratory of Functional Molecular Solids, Ministry of Education, Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Optoelectric Materials Science and Technology and Anhui Laboratory of Molecule-Based Materials, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241002, China
3 State key Lab of Organic-Inorganic Composites, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing 100029, China
4 Beijing Key Laboratory of Construction Tailorable Advanced Functional Materials and Green Applications, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
5 Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
§ Wenjie Wu and Yan Liu contributed equally to this work.

Keywords: single atomic sites catalysts, nitrogen-doped carbon materials, oxygen reduction reaction, carbon defect, non-noble metal
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The demand for high-performance non-precious-metal electrocatalysts to replace the noble metal-based catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is intensively increasing. Herein, single-atomic copper sites supported on N-doped three-dimensional hierarchically porous carbon catalyst (Cu1/NC) was prepared by coordination pyrolysis strategy. Remarkably, the Cu1/NC-900 catalyst not only exhibits excellent ORR performance with a half-wave potential of 0.894 V (vs. RHE) in alkaline media, outperforming those of commercial Pt/C (0.851 V) and Cu nanoparticles anchored on N-doped porous carbon (CuNPs/NC-900), but also demonstrates high stability and methanol tolerance. Moreover, the Cu1/NC-900 based Zn-air battery exhibits higher power density, rechargeability and cyclic stability than the one based on Pt/C. Both experimental and theoretical investigations demonstrated that the excellent performance of the as-obtained Cu1/NC-900 could be attributed to the synergistic effect between copper coordinated by three N atoms active sites and the neighbouring carbon defect, resulting in elevated Cu d-band centers of Cu atoms and facilitating intermediate desorption for ORR process. This study may lead towards the development of highly efficient non-noble metal catalysts for applications in electrochemical energy conversion.
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Single copper sites dispersed on hierarchically porous carbon for improving oxygen reduction reaction towards zinc-air battery. Nano Res. 2021, 14(4): 998–1003

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