Big to Small: Ultrafine Mo 2 C Particles Derived from Giant Polyoxomolybdate Clusters for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

Zheng Zhou, Ziwen Yuan, Sai Li, Hao Li, Junsheng Chen, Yanqing Wang, Qianwei Huang, Cheng Wang, Huseyin Enis Karahan, Graeme Henkelman, Xiaozhou Liao, Li Wei, Yuan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Due to its electronic structure, similar to platinum, molybdenum carbides (Mo 2 C) hold great promise as a cost-effective catalyst platform. However, the realization of high-performance Mo 2 C catalysts is still limited because controlling their particle size and catalytic activity is challenging with current synthesis methods. Here, the synthesis of ultrafine β-Mo 2 C nanoparticles with narrow size distribution (2.5 ± 0.7 nm) and high mass loading (up to 27.5 wt%) on graphene substrate using a giant Mo-based polyoxomolybdate cluster, Mo 132 ((NH 4 ) 42 [Mo 132 O 372 (CH 3 COO) 30 (H 2 O) 72 ]·10CH 3 COONH 4 ·300H 2 O) is demonstrated. Moreover, a nitrogen-containing polymeric binder (polyethyleneimine) is used to create MoN bonds between Mo 2 C nanoparticles and nitrogen-doped graphene layers, which significantly enhance the catalytic activity of Mo 2 C for the hydrogen evolution reaction, as is revealed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations. The optimal Mo 2 C catalyst shows a large exchange current density of 1.19 mA cm −2 , a high turnover frequency of 0.70 s −1 as well as excellent durability. The demonstrated new strategy opens up the possibility of developing practical platinum substitutes based on Mo 2 C for various catalytic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1900358
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 15
Externally publishedYes


  • graphene
  • hydrogen evolution reaction
  • molybdenum carbide
  • polyoxomolybdate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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