Impact of nanoparticle size and lattice oxygen on water oxidation on NiFeOxHy
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NiFeOxHy are the most active catalysts for oxygen evolution in a base. For this reason, they are used widely in alkaline electrolysers. Several open questions remain as to the reason for their exceptionally high catalytic activity. Here we use a model system of mass-selected NiFe nanoparticles and isotope labelling experiments to show that oxygen evolution in 1 M KOH does not proceed via lattice exchange. We complement our activity measurements with electrochemistry–mass spectrometry, taken under operando conditions, and transmission electron microscopy and low-energy ion-scattering spectroscopy, taken ex situ. Together with the trends in particle size, the isotope results indicate that oxygen evolution is limited to the near-surface region. Using the surface area of the particles, we determined that the turnover frequency was 6.2 ± 1.6 s−1 at an overpotential of 0.3 V, which is, to the best of our knowledge, the highest reported for oxygen evolution in alkaline solution.