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ACS Nano 2015, 9(5), 5164-5179

Catalytic and Charge Transfer Properties of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides Arising from Electrochemical Pretreatment

Layered transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) have been the center of attention in the scientific community due to their properties that can be tapped on for applications in electrochemistry and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) catalysis. We report on the effect of electrochemical treatment of exfoliated MoS2, WS2, MoSe2 and WSe2 nanosheets toward the goal of activating the electrochemical and HER catalytic properties of the TMDs. In particular, electrochemical activation of the heterogeneous electron transfer (HET) abilities of MoS2, MoSe2 and WSe2 is achieved via reductive treatments at identified reductive potentials based on their respective inherent electrochemistry. Comparing all TMDs, the charge transfer activation is most accentuated in MoSe2 and can be concluded that Mo metal and Se chalcogen type are more susceptible to electrochemical activation than W metal and S chalcogen type. With regards to the HER, we show that while MoS2 displayed enhanced performance when subjected to electrochemical reduction, WS2 fared worse upon oxidation. On the other hand, the HER performance of MoSe2 and WSe2 is independent of electrochemical redox treatment. We can conclude therefore that for the HER, S-containing TMDs are more responsive to redox treatment than compounds with the Se chalcogen. Our findings are beneficial toward understanding the electrochemistry of TMDs and the extent to which activation by electrochemical means is effective. In turn, when such knowledge is administered aptly, it will be promising for electrochemical uses.

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