Precious Metal-Free Nickel Nitride Catalyst for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction

Melissa E. Kreider, Alessandro Gallo, Seoin Back, Yunzhi Liu, Samira Siahrostami, Dennis Nordlund, Robert Sinclair, Jens K. Nørskov, Laurie A. King, Thomas F. Jaramillo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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With promising activity and stability for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), transition metal nitrides are an interesting class of non-platinum group catalysts for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Here, we report an active thinfilm nickel nitride catalyst synthesized through a reactive sputtering method. In rotating disk electrode testing in a 0.1 M HClO4 electrolyte, the crystalline nickel nitride film achieved high activity and selectivity to four-electron ORR. It also exhibited good stability during 10 and 40 h chronoamperometry measurements in acid and alkaline electrolyte, respectively. A combined experiment-theory approach, with detailed ex situ materials characterization and density functional theory calculations, provides insight into the structure of the catalyst and its surface during catalysis. Design strategies for activity and stability improvement through alloying and nanostructuring are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number30
Pages (from-to)26863-26871
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Electrocatalysis
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • Nonprecious metal catalysts
  • Transition metal nitrides
  • Reactive sputter deposition
  • Density functional theory


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