Insights into the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction on 2D Transition-Metal Dichalcogenides

Zhenbin Wang, Michael T. Tang, Ang Cao, Karen Chan, Jens K. Nørskov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Understanding hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) behaviors over two-dimensional transition-metal dichalcogenides (2D-TMDs) is critical for the development of nonprecious HER electrocatalysts with better activity. In this work, by combining density functional theory calculations with microkinetic modeling, we thoroughly investigated the HER mechanism on 2D-TMDs. We find an important dependence of simulated cell size on the calculated hydrogen adsorption energy and the activation barrier for MoS2. Distinct from previous "H migration"mechanisms proposed for the Heyrovsky reaction, the rate-determining step for MoS2, we propose that the Mo site only serves as the stabilized transition state rather than H adsorption. In comparison to transition-metal electrocatalysts, we find that the activation barrier of the Heyrovsky reaction on 2D-TMDs scales with the hydrogen adsorption energy exactly as for transition metals except that all activation energies are displaced upward by ca. 0.4 eV. This higher Heyrovsky activation barrier is responsible for the substantially lower activity of 2D-TMDs. We further show that this higher activation barrier stems from the more positively charged adsorbed hydrogen on the chalcogenides interacting repulsively with the incoming proton. Based on these insights, we discuss potential strategies for the design of nonprecious HER catalysts with activity comparable to Pt.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)5151-5158
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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