Nav: Home

A powerful catalyst for electrolysis of water that could help harness renewable energy

January 25, 2019

The importance of finding and improving renewable energy sources is becoming increasingly important. One strategy to generate energy is breaking water molecules (H2O) apart in an electrochemical reaction known as electrolysis. This process allows us to convert energy from the sun or other renewable sources into chemical energy. However, electrochemically splitting water molecules requires an overpotential--an excess voltage that has to be applied in addition to the theoretical voltage (1.23V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode or RHE) so that the necessary reactions can occur.

Electrocatalysts are materials that, because of their electrical and morphological features, facilitate electrochemical processes. Researchers have been searching for electrocatalysts that can aid in the electrolysis of water, and some of the best catalysts are noble-metal oxides, which are rare and costly. Nickel-based hydroxide (Ni(OH)2) compounds are, fortunately, a better alternative.

A team of scientists, including Profs. Hyunsik Im and Hyungsang Kim from Dongguk University, intercalated polyoxovanadate (POV) nanoclusters into Ni(OH)2 arranged in ordered layers and found that doing this improves its conducting and morphological properties, which in turn enhances its catalytic activity. They employed a promising method called chemical solution growth (CSG), wherein a highly saturated solution is prepared, and the desired material structure naturally forms as the solutes precipitate in a predictable and controlled fashion, creating a layer-by-layer structure with POV nanoclusters intercalated between the Ni(OH)2 layers.

The team demonstrated that the resulting house-of-cards-like structure greatly reduced the overpotential needed for the electrolysis of water. They attributed this to the morphological features of this material; the POV nanoclusters increase the spacing between the Ni(OH)2 layers and induce the formation of micropores, which increases the surface area of the final material and the number of catalytic sites where water molecules can be split. "Our results demonstrate the advantages of the CSG method for optimizing the pore structure of the resulting material," explains Prof. Im.

Facilitating the electrolysis of water using novel catalysts is a step toward achieving a greener future. What's more, the CSG method could be useful in many other fields. "The facile CSG deposition of nanohybrid materials may be useful for applications such as the production of Li-ion batteries and biosensors," states Prof. Kim. Only time will tell what new uses CSG will find.

Authors: Jayavant L. Gunjakar1,2, Bo Hou3, Akbar I. Inamdar1, Sambhaji M. Pawar1,

Abu Talha Aqueel Ahmed1, Harish S. Chavan1, Jongmin Kim1, Sangeun Cho1,

Seongwoo Lee1, Yongcheol Jo1, Seong-Ju Hwang4, Tae Geun Kim5, SeungNam Cha3,

Hyungsang Kim1*, and Hyunsik Im1*

Title of original paper: Two-Dimensional Layered Hydroxide Nanoporous Nanohybrids Pillared with Zero-Dimensional Polyoxovanadate Nanoclusters for Enhanced Water Oxidation Catalysis

Journal: Small

DOI: 10.1002/smll.201703481

Affiliations: 1Division of Physics and Semiconductor Science, Dongguk University

2D. Y. Patil Education society

3Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

4Center for Intelligent Nano-Bio Materials (CINBM), Department of Chemistry and Nano Sciences, Ewha Womans University

5School of Electrical Engineering, Korea University

*Corresponding author's email: H. Kim (; H. Im (

Dongguk University

Related Water Molecules Articles:

Breaking water molecules apart to generate clean fuel: Investigating a promising material
Scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) investigated a material that uses sunlight for splitting water molecules (H2O) to obtain dihydrogen (H2).
Source water key to bacterial water safety in remote Northern Australia
In the wet-dry topics of Australia, drinking water in remote communities is often sourced from groundwater bores.
How two water molecules dance together
Researchers have gained new insights into how water molecules interact.
There are no water molecules between the ions in the selectivity filter of potassium
Do only potassium ions pass through the selectivity filter of a potassium channel, or are there water molecules between the ions?
Our water cycle diagrams give a false sense of water security
Pictures of the earth's water cycle used in education and research throughout the world are in urgent need of updating to show the effects of human interference, according to new analysis by an international team of hydrology experts.
Water management helped by mathematical model of fresh water lenses
In this paper, the homeostasis of water lenses was explained as an intricate interaction of the following physical factors: infiltration to the lens from occasional (sporadic) rains, permanent evaporation from the water table, buoyancy due to a density contrast of the fresh and saline water, and the force of resistance to water motion from the dune sand.
Using water molecules to unlock neurons' secrets
EPFL researchers have developed a method to observe the electrical activity of neurons by analyzing the behavior of surrounding water molecules.
Molecular adlayer produced by dissolving water-insoluble nanographene in water
Even though nanographene is insoluble in water and organic solvents, Kumamoto University and Tokyo Institute of Technology researchers have found a way to dissolve it in water.
Water-worlds are common: Exoplanets may contain vast amounts of water
Scientists have shown that water is likely to be a major component of those exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) which are between two to four times the size of Earth.
How ions gather water molecules around them
Charged particles in aqueous solutions are always surrounded by a shell of water molecules.
More Water Molecules News and Water Molecules Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at