Non-noble-metal, thin-film oxides are widely investigated as promising catalysts for oxygen evolution reactions (OER). Amorphous cobalt oxide films electrochemically formed in the presence of borate (CoBi) and phosphate (CoPi) share a common cobaltate domain building block, but differ significantly in OER performance that derives from different electron-proton charge transport properties. Here, we use a combination of L edge synchrotron X-ray absorption (XAS), resonant X-ray emission (RXES), resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS), resonant Raman (RR) scattering, and high-energy X-ray pair distribution function (PDF) analyses that identify electronic and structural factors correlated to the charge transport differences for CoPi and CoBi. The analyses show that CoBi is composed primarily of cobalt in octahedral coordination, whereas CoPi contains approximately 17% tetrahedral Co(II), with the remainder in octahedral coordination. Oxygen-mediated 4p-3d hybridization through Co-O-Co bonding was detected by RXES and the intersite dd excitation was observed by RIXS in CoBi, but not in CoPi. RR shows that CoBi resembles a disordered layered LiCoO2-like structure, whereas CoPi is amorphous. Distinct domain models in the nanometer range for CoBi and CoPi have been proposed on the basis of the PDF analysis coupled to XAS data. The observed differences provide information on electronic and structural factors that enhance oxygen evolving catalysis performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry