Atomic metal–non-metal catalytic pair drives efficient hydrogen oxidation catalysis in fuel cells

Qilun Wang, Huawei Wang, Hao Cao, Ching Wei Tung, Wei Liu, Sung Fu Hung, Weijue Wang, Chun Zhu, Zihou Zhang, Weizheng Cai, Yaqi Cheng, Hua Bing Tao*, Hao Ming Chen, Yang Gang Wang*, Yujing Li*, Hong Bin Yang*, Yanqiang Huang, Jun Li, Bin Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Rational design of efficient hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) electrocatalysts with maximum utilization of platinum-group metal sites is critical to hydrogen fuel cells, but remains a major challenge due to the formidable potential-dependent energy barrier for hydrogen intermediate (H*) desorption on single metal centres. Here we report atomically dispersed iridium–phosphorus (Ir–P) catalytic pairs with strong electronic coupling that integratively facilitate HOR kinetics, in which the reactive hydroxyl species adsorbed on the more oxophilic P site induces an alternative thermodynamic pathway to facilely combine with H* on the adjacent Ir atom, whereas isolated single-atom Ir catalysts are inactive. In H2–O2 fuel cells, this catalyst enables a peak power density of 1.93 W cm−2 and an anodic mass activity as high as 17.11 A mgIr−1 at 0.9 ViR-free, significantly outperforming commercial Pt/C. This work not only advances the development of anodic catalysts for fuel cells, but also provides a precise and universal active-site design principle for multi-intermediate catalysis. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-926
Number of pages11
JournalNature Catalysis
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


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