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Angewandte Chemie-International Edition 2013, 52(51), 13818-13821

“Metal-Free” Catalytic Oxygen Reduction Reaction on Heteroatom-Doped Graphene is Caused by Trace Metal Impurities

The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is of high industrial importance. There is a large body of literature showing that metal-based catalytic nanoparticles (e.g. Co, Mn, Fe or hybrid Mn/Co-based nanoparticles) supported on graphene act as efficient catalysts for the ORR. A significant research effort is also directed to the so-called metal-free oxygen reduction reaction on heteroatom-doped graphene surfaces. While such studies of the ORR on nonmetallic heteroatom-doped graphene are advertised as metal-free there is typically no sufficient effort to characterize the doped materials to verify that they are indeed free of any trace metal. Here we argue that the claimed metal-free electrocatalysis of the oxygen reduction reaction on heteroatom-doped graphene is caused by metallic impurities present within the graphene materials.

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