The development of bioinspired catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction is one of the most prominent pathways in the search for active materials to replace Pt-based catalysts in fuel cells. Herein, we report innovative bioinspired catalysts using a directed synthetic pathway to create adjacent Cu and Fe sites. This catalyst is composed of a covalent 3D framework in an aerogel form. Aerogels are high surface area and porous hierarchical structures that can allow the formation of ultrahigh active site density and optimized mass transport of reactants and products to and from the catalytic sites. The aerogel-based catalyst exhibits high performance in a half-cell in 0.1 M KOH, with an onset potential of 0.94 V vs RHE and half-wave potential of E1/2 = 0.80 V vs RHE, high selectivity toward the four-electron reduction of oxygen to hydroxide anions, and high durability. These results are well-translated to the anion exchange membrane fuel cell (AEMFC), reaching an open circuit potential of 0.97 V and iR-corrected peak power density of 0.51 W cm-2. Based on density functional theory calculations, the improved activity relative to the Fe-porphyrin and Cu-corrole is ascribed to the effect of the extended carbon network and the proximity of the metal sites.
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© 2023 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society
- oxygen reduction reaction