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ACS Nano 2014, 8(12), 12185-12198

Electrochemistry of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides: Strong Dependence on the Metal-to-Chalcogen Composition and Exfoliation Method

Beyond MoS2 as the first transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) to have gained recognition as an efficient catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), interest in other TMD nanomaterials is steadily beginning to proliferate. This is particularly true in the field of electrochemistry, with a myriad of emerging applications ranging from catalysis to supercapacitors and solar cells. Despite this rise, current understanding of their electrochemical characteristics is especially lacking. We therefore examine the inherent electroactivities of various chemically exfoliated TMDs (MoSe2, WS2, WSe2) and their implications for sensing and catalysis of the hydrogen evolution and oxygen reduction reactions (ORR). The TMDs studied are found to possess distinctive inherent electroactivities and together with their catalytic effects for the HER are revealed to strongly depend on the chemical exfoliation route and metal-to-chalcogen composition particularly in MoSe2. Despite its inherent activity exhibiting large variations depending on the exfoliation procedure, it is also the most efficient HER catalyst with a low overpotential of -0.36 V vs RHE (at 10 mA cm(-2) current density) and fairly low Tafel slope of similar to 65 mV/dec after BuLi exfoliation. In addition, it demonstrates a fast heterogeneous electron transfer rate with a k(obs)(0) of 9.17 x 10(-4) cm s(-1) toward ferrocyanide, better than that seen for conventional glassy carbon electrodes. Knowledge of TMD electrochemistry is essential for the rational development of future applications; inherent TMD activity may potentially limit certain purposes, but intended objectives can nonetheless be achieved by careful selection of TMD compositions and exfoliation methods.

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