A Surface-Oxide-Rich Activation Layer (SOAL) on Ni2Mo3N for a Rapid and Durable Oxygen Evolution Reaction

Yao Yuan, Samira Adimi, Xuyun Guo, Tiju Thomas, Ye Zhu, Haichuan Guo, G. Sudha Priyanga, Pilsun Yoo, Jiacheng Wang, Jian Chen, Peilin Liao, J. Paul Attfield, Minghui Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


The oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is key to renewable energy technologies such as water electrolysis and metal–air batteries. However, the multiple steps associated with proton-coupled electron transfer result in sluggish OER kinetics and catalysts are required. Here we demonstrate that a novel nitride, Ni2Mo3N, is a highly active OER catalyst that outperforms the benchmark material RuO2. Ni2Mo3N exhibits a current density of 10 mA cm−2 at a nominal overpotential of 270 mV in 0.1 m KOH with outstanding catalytic cyclability and durability. Structural characterization and computational studies reveal that the excellent activity stems from the formation of a surface-oxide-rich activation layer (SOAL). Secondary Mo atoms on the surface act as electron pumps that stabilize oxygen-containing species and facilitate the continuity of the reactions. This discovery will stimulate the further development of ternary nitrides with oxide surface layers as efficient OER catalysts for electrochemical energy devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18036-18041
Number of pages6
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2020


  • electrocatalysis
  • oxygen evolution reaction
  • ternary nitrides
  • Zn–air batteries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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