Controlled Assembly of Cu/Co-Oxide Beaded Nanoclusters on Thiolated Graphene Oxide Nanosheets for High-Performance Oxygen Evolution Catalysts

Akhtar Munir, Tanveer ul Haq, Iqtidar Hussain, Irfan Ullah, Syed Zajif Hussain, Ahsanulhaq Qurashi, Javed Iqbal, Asma Rehman, Irshad Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The use of water splitting modules is highly desired for the sustainable production of H2 as a future energy carrier. However, the sluggish kinetics and demand of high anodic potential are the bottlenecks for half-the cell oxygen evolution reaction (OER), which severely hamper the overall conversion efficiency. Although transition metal oxides based electrocatalysts have been envisioned as cost-effective and potential contenders for this quest, nevertheless, their low conductivity, instability, and limited number of active sites are among the common impediments that need to be addressed to eventually enhance their inherent catalytic potential for enhanced OER activity. Herein, the controlled assembly of transition metal oxides, that is, Cu@CuOx nanoclusters (NCs, ≈2 nm) and Co@CoOx beaded nanoclusters (BNCs, ≈2 nm), on thiol-functionalized graphene oxide (G-SH) nanosheets is reported to form novel and highly efficient electrocatalysts for OER. The thiol (-SH) functionality was incorporated by selective epoxidation on the surface of graphene oxide (GO) to achieve chemically exfoliated nanosheets to enhance its conductivity and trapping ability for metal oxides in nanoscale dimensions (≈2 nm). During the electrocatalytic reaction, overpotentials of 290 mV and 310 mV are required to achieve a current density of 10 mA cm−2 for BNCs and NCs, respectively, and the catalysts exhibit tremendous long-term stability (≈50 h) in purified alkaline medium (1 m KOH) with no dissolution in the electrolyte. Moreover, the smaller Tafel slopes (54 mV/dec for BNCs and 66 mV/dec for NCs), and a Faradic efficiency of approximately 96 % indicate not only the selectivity but also the tailored heterogeneous electrons transfer (HET) rate, which is required for fast electrode kinetics. It is anticipated that such ultrasmall metal oxide nanoclusters and their controlled assembly on a conducting surface (G-SH) may offer high electrochemical accessibility and a plethora of active sites owing to the drastic decrease in dimensions and thus can synergistically ameliorate the challenging OER process.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)11209-11219
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number49
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • electrocatalysis
  • metal/metal oxide nanoclusters
  • surface assembly
  • thiolation of graphene oxide
  • water oxidation


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