Redox-Mediator-Assisted Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution from Water by a Molybdenum Sulfide-Functionalized Metal-Organic Framework

Hyunho Noh, Chung Wei Kung, Ken Ichi Otake, Aaron W. Peters, Zhanyong Li, Yijun Liao, Xinyi Gong, Omar K. Farha*, Joseph T. Hupp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The Zr6-based metal-organic framework NU-1000 was successfully functionalized with candidate catalysts - MoSx units - via SIM (solvothermal deposition in MOFs) of molybdenum(VI), followed by reaction with H2S gas. The structure of the material, named MoSx-SIM, was characterized spectroscopically and through a single-crystal X-ray diffraction measurement. These measurements and others established that the catalyst is monometallic, with mixed oxygen and sulfur coordination, and that it forms from a MOF-node-supported molybdenum-based cluster featuring only oxy ligands. Notably, the formal potential for the MOF-grafted complex, like that for the metal-sulfur active site of hydrogenase, is nearly coincident with the formal potential for the hydrogen couple. Its effective concentration within the mesoporous MOF is several hundred millimolar, and its porous-framework-based immobilization/heterogenization obviates the need for aqueous solubility as a condition for use as a well-defined catalyst. MoSx-SIM was evaluated as an electrocatalyst for evolution of molecular hydrogen from aqueous acid. Although the MoSx-functionalized framework exhibits catalytic behavior, the highly insulating nature of the support inhibits high electrocatalytic performance. Introduction of an archetypal redox mediator (RM), methyl viologen (MV2+), resulted in more than 20-fold enhancement in its catalytic performance on a turnover frequency basis, implying efficient RM-assisted electron transfer to otherwise electrochemically non-addressable MoSx moieties. Electrochemical kinetic studies with additional viologens as mediators reveal an unexpected square-root dependence of overall reaction rate on mediator concentration, as well as sensitivity to the strength of RM•+ as a reductant. These observations, together with observations of potential-dependent H/D isotope effects and potential-dependent pH effects, provide useful insights into the catalysis mechanism and help to explain how the MOF-affixed monometallic catalyst can effectively catalyze a two-electron reduction reaction, i.e., hydrogen evolution from acidified water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9848-9858
Number of pages11
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 5 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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