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Chemistry-A European Journal 2018, 24(4), 928-936

One-Step Synthesis of B/N Co-doped Graphene as Highly Efficient Electrocatalyst for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction: Synergistic Effect of Impurities

In the last decade, numerous studies of graphene doping by various metal and nonmetal elements have been done in order to obtain tailored properties, such as non-zero band gap, electrocatalytic activity, or controlled optical properties. From nonmetal elements, boron and nitrogen were the most studied dopants. Recently, it has been shown that in some cases the enhanced electrocatalytic activity of graphene and its derivatives can be attributed to metal impurities rather than to nonmetal elements. In this paper, we investigated the electrocatalytical properties of B/N codoped graphene with respect to the content of metallic im-purities introduced by the synthesis procedures. For this purpose, a permanganate (Hummers) and a chlorate (Hofmann) route were used for the preparation of the starting graphene oxides (GO). The GO used for the synthesis of B/N codoped graphene had significantly difference compositions of oxygen functionalities as well as metallic impurities introduced by the different synthetic procedures. We performed a detailed structural and chemical analysis of the doped graphene samples to correlate their electrocatalytic activity with the concentration of incorporated boron and nitrogen as well as metallic impurities.

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