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Influence of Defects on Barrier Energy Formation for OOH* Intermediate in ORR on Tetragonal-ZrO 2 with Adsorbed-Hydroxyl

Seyedehsara FazeliPascal Brault (GREMI)Ama\"el Caillard (GREMI) ...+3 Soumya Atmane (GREMI)
Jan 2024
Accelerating the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is a main subject of electrocatalysis research.A critical step of ORR is the formation of the hydroperoxyl functional group (OOH*) intermediate. In this study, we investigate the influence of defects on facilitating the creation of OOH* in a zirconia-based cathode under hydroxyl group (-OH) adsorption. Simulations involve tetragonal pristine ZrO2 (111) surfaces with introduced oxygen vacancy (t-ZrO2-x) and nitrogen dopant (ZrO2-xNx). Density functional theory (DFT) is used to calculate the competitive -OH adsorption energies on pristine and defective surfaces. It reveals that oxynitride t-ZrO2-xNx and under-stoichiometric oxide t-ZrO2-x exhibit the lowest and highest susceptibility to -OH adsorption, respectively. Additionally, we have determined the Minimum Energy Pathway (MEP) for OOH* formation on t-ZrO2, t-ZrO2-x, and t-ZrO2-xNx with adsorbed-OH using the Nudged Elastic Band (NEB) approach with the COMB3 potential. Our results highlight the significant influence of defects on tuning the barrier energy of OOH* formation. The trend in the barrier energy formation of OOH* decreases in the order of t-ZrO2-x > pristine t-ZrO2 > t-ZrO2-xNx. We demonstrate that ZrO2-xNx is a promising candidate for accelerating ORR due to its lower barrier energy for OOH* creation. The findings from this study offer crucial insights for experimentalists aiming to develop optimal non-platinum-based cathode materials.
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