Beneficial effect of Fe addition on the catalytic activity of electrodeposited MnOx films in the water oxidation reaction

Marco Etzi Coller Pascuzzi, Elizabeth Selinger, Adriano Sacco, Micaela Castellino, Paola Rivolo, Simelys Hernández, Gregory Lopinski, Isaac Tamblyn, Roberto Nasi, Serena Esposito, Maeala Manzoli, Barbara Bonelli, Marco Armandi

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We report on a fast and simple protocol for the electrodeposition of Fe-MnOx films used as catalysts for the water oxidation (WO) reaction at neutral pH, and showing the beneficial effect of iron in terms of both activity and stability of the catalyst. While most electrodeposited MnOx WO catalysts are obtained starting from Mn(II) precursors, the proposed protocol consists in the galvanostatic cathodic deposition of Fe-MnOx onto conductive FTO glasses, using KMnO4 and Fe(NO3)3 as Mn and Fe precursors, respectively. In the absence of Fe, the Tafel slope drastically increases from 103 to 270 mV dec−1 when passing from low to high overpotentials. The slope change, instead, is progressively reduced when the Fe precursor is added to the deposition solution and a constant slope of 105 mV dec−1 is obtained in the whole overpotential range with an optimal Fe concentration of 1.00 mM, Accordingly, Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) shows that Fe addition improves both charge transfer and transport properties of the electrodeposited films. In particular, a five-fold decrease in charge transfer resistance at the catalyst/electrolyte interface was observed, suggesting a more facile oxygen evolving kinetics for Fe containing samples. Furthermore, the lower the iron content, the lower the film stability, as pointed out by chronopotentiometric measurements, and confimed by FESEM analysis and EIS as measured both before and after water electrolysis experiments. To establish structure activity relationships, an extended characterization of the electrodeposited films was carried out by means of Raman Microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, UV–vis and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopies. The ensemble of the characterization results suggests that Fe3+ ions are actually incorporated within the electrodeposited film, with limited effects on the final Fe-MnOx structure, consisting in a defective MnO2 birnessite-type structure with significant fraction of surface Mn3+ species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-302
Number of pages9
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2018


  • Electrocatalysis
  • Iron addition
  • Manganese oxides
  • Oxygen evolution reaction
  • Water electrolysis


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