Recent technological advances have seen the successful development and utilization of graphene, which has in turn triggered extensive exploration of atomically thin 2D nanomaterials for both fundamental studies and practical applications. Such nanomaterials of atomic thickness possess auspicious properties that can enable their applications in biomedicine, optoelectronics, sensors, and in energy conversion and storage. Regardless, in order to improve their performance, considerable attention has to be devoted to the rational design of the nanostructures. Presently, existing literature has only placed emphasis on the modulation and optimization of the surface electronic structures, which contributes to the improvement of physical and chemical properties only. Unfortunately, this emphasis is misrepresentative as it is not the only determinant of performance when it comes to practical applications. Therefore, there is a general desire to develop a universal technique that can enable the gradual manipulation of the architecture of nano-sheets, with the goal of further improving their properties and functionalities in practical applications.
A team of Australian researchers led by Professor Shi Xue Dou from the University of Wollongong proposed a study whose main objective was to advance a generalized strategy that would enable incremental manipulation of the architectures of several atomically thin transition metal (hydr)oxides by finely adjusting the precursor hydrolysis rate and the solution viscosity and polarity. They purposed to report on the effects of assembled architecture on electrocatalytic performance. Their work is currently published in the research journal, ACS Nano.
The research team commenced the experimental work by manipulating the architecture of atomically thin transition metal (hydr)oxide nano-sheets via a generalized synthetic strategy. Next, they characterized the morphology and phase structure of different nano-sheet architectures. Eventually, electrochemical measurements were undertaken so as to evaluate the catalytic performance of the various nano-sheet architectures. The researchers concluded that for the experimented wrinkled nickel II hydroxide nano-sheets, a low overpotential and a high current density were recorded with an excellent long-term durability with gradually optimized performance, significantly outperforming other nanosheet architectures and previously reported catalysts. The outstanding catalytic performance was mainly attributable to the sufficient electrode-material/current-collector contact, efficient electrolyte diffusion, and easy oxygen gas escape provided by the 3D porous network structure.
Altogether, the study carried out by Shi Xue Dou and colleagues emphasize the importance of assembled architecture in electrocatalysis. This Australian research work is of immense significance for optimizing the performance of atomically thin nanomaterials by developing desired architectures with fascinating properties and functionalities for a wide range of practical applications.
Yuhai Dou, Lei Zhang, Jiantie Xu, Chun-Ting He, Xun Xu, Ziqi Sun, Ting Liao, Balázs Nagy, Porun Liu, and Shi Xue Dou. Manipulating the Architecture of Atomically Thin Transition Metal (Hydr)oxides for Enhanced Oxygen Evolution Catalysis. American Chemical Society Nano 2018, volume 12, pages 1878−1886Go To American Chemical Society Nano