ZnO as an Active and Selective Catalyst for Electrochemical Water Oxidation to Hydrogen Peroxide

Sara Kelly, Xinjian Shi, Seoin Back, Lauren Vallez, So Yeon Park, Samira Siahrostami, Xiaolin Zheng, Jens K. Nørskov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Electrochemical synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) via two-electron water oxidation reaction (2e-WOR) is an ideal process for delocalized production for water cleaning and other applications. Previously reported water oxidation catalysts have limited activity and selectivity, imposing a bottleneck for broad adaption of this technology. We identify ZnO as a new stable, non-toxic, active and selective catalyst for 2e-WOR to generate H2O2. Using density functional theory calculations, we propose that the (101 ̅0) facet of ZnO is an exceptional catalyst for 2e-WOR and confirm the prediction experimentally. We synthesize ZnO nanoparticles with a high fraction of (101 ̅0) facets and find that this catalyst gives an overpotential of 40 mV at 0.1 mA/cm2, and peak Faradaic efficiency of 81 % towards H2O2 evolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)4593-4599
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Water oxidation catalysis
  • Hydrogen peroxide synthesis
  • Zinc oxide
  • Density functional theory
  • Electrocatalysis

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