Atomic layer deposition of ultrathin nickel sulfide films and preliminary assessment of their performance as hydrogen evolution catalysts

Yasemin Çimen, Aaron W. Peters, Jason R. Avila, William L. Hoffeditz, Subhadip Goswami, Omar K. Farha*, Joseph T. Hupp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Transition metal sulfides show great promise for applications ranging from catalysis to electrocatalysis to photovoltaics due to their high stability and conductivity. Nickel sulfide, particularly known for its ability to electrochemically reduce protons to hydrogen gas nearly as efficiently as expensive noble metals, can be challenging to produce with certain surface site compositions or morphologies, e.g., conformal thin films. To this end, we employed atomic layer deposition (ALD), a preeminent method to fabricate uniform and conformal films, to construct thin films of nickel sulfide (NiSx) using bis(N,N′-di-tert-butylacetamidinato)nickel(II) (Ni(amd)2) vapor and hydrogen sulfide gas. Effects of experimental conditions such as pulse and purge times and temperature on the growth of NiSx were investigated. These revealed a wide temperature range, 125-225 °C, over which self-limiting NiSx growth can be observed. In situ quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) studies revealed conventional linear growth behavior for NiSx films, with a growth rate of 9.3 ng/cm2 per cycle being obtained. The ALD-synthesized films were characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) methods. To assess the electrocatalyitic activity of NiSx for evolution of molecular hydrogen, films were grown on conductive-glass supports. Overpotentials at a current density of 10 mA/cm2 were recorded in both acidic and pH 7 phosphate buffer aqueous reaction media and found to be 440 and 576 mV, respectively, with very low NiSx loading. These results hint at the promise of ALD-grown NiSx materials as water-compatible electrocatalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12005-12012
Number of pages8
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 22 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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