At present, the world is troubled by environmental pollution and energy depletion; both of which are vital for sustainable development. Among the myriad of solutions that have been proposed, electrochemistry offers the most promising approach credit to its fast, sensitive and clean properties. For instance, detection and treatment of surface water for 4-Nitrophenol (a highly hazardous and toxic type of phenol); electrochemical methods have proven quite useful. Additionally, electrolysis of various electrolytes to generate hydrogen and water through the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is another plausible application of electrochemistry. HER facilitates the storage of excess energy; say excess electricity during night hours when consumption is low. Noteworthy publications have recently highlighted that for optimal HER performance, the electrodes ought to be modified. Regardless, studies exploring for effective electrode materials have persistently attracted increasing interest and become a research hotspot in recent years.
It is well acknowledged beyond reasonable doubt that the electrode material ought to be improved for better electrochemical performance. Consequently, researchers from the Department of Applied Chemistry in College of Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Nanchang Hangkong University in China: Xueqin Li, Yangming Shi, Professor Pinghua Chen, Guifang Li, Professor Hongying Shu, Dr. Dezhi Chen, and Professor Hualin Jiang, in collaboration with Professor Yingchen Bai at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences and Professor Songjun Li at Jiangsu University developed a novel electrode material based on 3D AgInS2/rGO. Their work is currently published in Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.
The research team started by preparing the novel electrode material 3D AgInS2/rGO. This material was multitasking in nature in that it could couple two important electrochemical functions, i.e. sensing and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), into one electrode material. Generally, the highly conductive 3D rGO scaffold decorated with nano AgInS2 particles was used to form a nanohybrid, which could produce positive synergistic effects to improve the electrochemical properties.
The authors reported that their modified electrode could highly and sensitively detect 4-nitrophenol in real water over a wide concentration range with significantly low limit of detection, outstanding stability and anti-interference ability. Moreover, they established that it could effectively electrolyze water to produce H2 by HER with low onset potential, low overpotential, small Tafel slope, good durability and high stability.
In summary, the study demonstrated the preparation of a novel 3D AgInS2/rGO nanocomposite. The researchers highlighted that the presented material could be used as a highly sensitive detecting platform for 4-Nitrophenol in actual water with low limit, wide detection range, high stability and selectivity. Moreover, the same could act as an excellent electrocatalyst to split water to produce H2 via HER with small Tafel slope, low overpotential, high durability and stability. In a statement to Advances in Engineering, Professor Hualin Jiang emphasized that the presented multifunctional 3D AgInS2/rGO electrode material could be used to treat comprehensive environmental problems.
Xueqin Li, Yangming Shi, Pinghua Chen, Yingchen Bai, Guifang Li, Hongying Shu, Dezhi Chen, Songjun Li, Hualin Jiang. Multifunctional electrochemical application of a novel 3D AgInS2/rGO nanohybrid for electrochemical detection and HER. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology 2019; volume 94: page 3713–3724.