Amorphous versus Crystalline in Water Oxidation Catalysis: A Case Study of NiFe Alloy

Weizheng Cai, Rong Chen, Hongbin Yang, Hua Bing Tao, Hsin Yi Wang, Jiajian Gao, Wei Liu, Song Liu, Sung Fu Hung, Bin Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Catalytic water splitting driven by renewable electricity offers a promising strategy to produce molecular hydrogen, but its efficiency is severely restricted by the sluggish kinetics of the anodic water oxidation reaction. Amorphous catalysts are reported to show better activities of water oxidation than their crystalline counterparts, but little is known about the underlying origin, which retards the development of high-performance amorphous oxygen evolution reaction catalysts. Herein, on the basis of cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, isotope labeling, and in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy studies, we demonstrate that an amorphous catalyst can be electrochemically activated to expose active sites in the bulk thanks to the short-range order of the amorphous structure, which greatly increases the number of active sites and thus improves the electrocatalytic activity of the amorphous catalyst in water oxidation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4278-4285
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2020


  • active sites
  • amorphous
  • crystalline
  • in situ
  • oxygen evolution reaction


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