Insight into the electrochemical activation of carbon-based cathodes for hydrogen evolution reaction

Guofa Dong, Ming Fang, Hongtao Wang, Senpo Yip, Ho Yuen Cheung, Fengyun Wang, Chun Yuen Wong, Sai Tak Chu, Johnny C. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, carbon nanomaterials with outstanding electrocatalytic performance for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) after electrochemical activation have been reported; however, the exact activation mechanism is still under extensive debate. In this study, to better understand the activation, graphite rods and carbon nanohorns, two typical carbon materials in different scales, were electrochemically activated and their catalytic performances in HER were systematically studied, which showed that the HER performance was greatly affected by the counter electrode employed for the activation. An efficient activation was achieved when a platinum wire was used as the counter electrode; simultaneously, Pt transfer from the anode to the cathode was also observed. These results suggest that the improved HER performance was mainly caused by the Pt transfer, rather than the activation of the carbon materials themselves. More importantly, our study implied that the Pt dissolution, although widely ignored, should be taken into consideration during electrochemical tests when Pt metal is utilized as the counter electrode.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13080-13086
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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