Theoretical study on the mechanism of the hydrogen evolution reaction catalyzed by platinum subnanoclusters

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The smallest subnanocluster models of platinum colloid (Ptn) are supposed to diffuse in aqueous media in order to examine their behaviors when they are subjected to the electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction under zero overpotential conditions at pH 0. The DFT approach allows us to clarify the nature of individual proton transfer (PT) and electron transfer (ET) processes together with the importance of relying on concerted proton-electron transfer (CPET) pathways to promote the majority of H* adsorption processes by Ptn subnanoclusters. Although the CPET processes are closely correlated with the Volmer steps (Pt + H+ + e → Pt-H*) described so far in electrochemistry, our study for the first time points out the essential capability of the Ptn clusters to promote the multiple PT steps without the need to transfer any electrons, revealing the fundamentally high basicity of the naked Ptn clusters (pKa = 27-28 for Pt4, Pt5, and Pt6). The discrete cluster models adopted herein avoid the structural constraints forced by the standard slab models and enable us to discuss the drastic alterations in the geometric and electronic structures of the intermediates given by the consecutive promotion of multiple CPET steps. The weakening of the Pt-H* bond strength with the increasing number of CPET steps is well rationalized by carefully examining the changes in the ν(Pt-H*) vibrational frequencies, the hydricity, and the H2 desorption energy. The behaviors are also correlated with the underpotential and overpotential deposited hydrogen atoms (HUPD and HOPD) discussed in electrochemical studies for many years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-597
Number of pages15
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Inorganic Chemistry


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