Electrocatalytic and photocatalytic hydrogen production from acidic and neutral-pH aqueous solutions using iron phosphide nanoparticles

Juan F. Callejas, Joshua M. McEnaney, Carlos G. Read, J. Chance Crompton, Adam J. Biacchi, Eric J. Popczun, Thomas R. Gordon, Nathan S. Lewis, Raymond E. Schaak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

419 Scopus citations


Nanostructured transition-metal phosphides have recently emerged as Earth-abundant alternatives to platinum for catalyzing the hydrogen-evolution reaction (HER), which is central to several clean energy technologies because it produces molecular hydrogen through the electrochemical reduction of water. Iron-based catalysts are very attractive targets because iron is the most abundant and least expensive transition metal. We report herein that iron phosphide (FeP), synthesized as nanoparticles having a uniform, hollow morphology, exhibits among the highest HER activities reported to date in both acidic and neutral-pH aqueous solutions. As an electrocatalyst operating at a current density of -10 mA cm-2, FeP nanoparticles deposited at a mass loading of ∼1 mg cm-2 on Ti substrates exhibited overpotentials of -50 mV in 0.50 M H2SO4 and -102 mV in 1.0 M phosphate buffered saline. The FeP nanoparticles supported sustained hydrogen production with essentially quantitative faradaic yields for extended time periods under galvanostatic control. Under UV illumination in both acidic and neutral-pH solutions, FeP nanoparticles deposited on TiO2 produced H2 at rates and amounts that begin to approach those of Pt/TiO2. FeP therefore is a highly Earth-abundant material for efficiently facilitating the HER both electrocatalytically and photocatalytically. (Graph Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11101-11107
Number of pages7
JournalACS nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 25 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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