Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The reaction is difficult but achievable with the help of a catalyst, a material that can speed up the process. However, current catalysts lack the efficiency required for water splitting to be commercially competitive. Recently scientists have identified one such catalyst, iron-doped nickel oxide, as a highly active compound that can speed up this reaction, but the origin of its activity is not well understood.
Now researchers at Princeton University have reported new insights into the structure of an active component of the nickel oxide catalyst, known as β-NiOOH, using theoretical calculations. Led by Annabella Selloni, professor of chemistry at Princeton, the findings were published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters on October 28.
"Understanding the structure is the basis for any further study of the material's properties. If you don't know the material's structure you can't know what it's doing," Selloni said. Nickel oxide's exact structure has been difficult to determine experimentally because it is constantly changing during the reaction.To read more, click here.