Bigger is Surprisingly Better: Agglomerates of Larger RuP Nanoparticles Outperform Benchmark Pt Nanocatalysts for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

Jie Yu, Yanan Guo, Sixuan She, Shuanshuan Miao, Meng Ni, Wei Zhou, Meilin Liu, Zongping Shao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Although metallic ruthenium (Ru) is a potential electrocatalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) to replace platinum (Pt) at a cost of only ≈4% of Pt, the persistent dissolution of Ru under operation conditions remains a challenge. Here, it is reported that agglomerates of large ruthenium phosphide (RuP) particles (L-RP, ≈32 nm) show outstanding HER performance in pH-universal electrolytes, which particularly demonstrates a surprisingly higher intrinsic activity and durability than small nanoparticles of RuP (S-RP, ≈3 nm) or metallic Ru on carbon supports. This is especially true in basic media, achieving electrocatalytic activity comparable to or even outperforming that of Pt/C, as reflected by lower overpotential at 10 mA cm−2, smaller Tafel slope, larger exchange current density, and higher turnover frequency while maintaining 200 h stable operation. Calculations suggest that ΔGH* of RuP is much closer to zero than that of metallic Ru, and phosphorous doping is proven to enhance the rate of proton transfer in HER, contributing in part to the improved activity of RuP. The better performance of L-RP than that of S-RP is ascribed largely to the stabilization of the P species due to the lowered surface energy of large particles. Furthermore, the relatively low-cost materials and facile synthesis make L-RP/C a highly attractive next-generation HER electrocatalyst.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800047
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2018


  • enhanced rate of proton-transfer
  • hydrogen evolution reaction
  • large ruthenium phosphide (RuP) particles
  • lowered surface energy
  • wide pH range

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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