Single-atom metal (SA-M) catalysts with high dispersion of active metal sites allow maximum atomic utilization. Conventional synthesis of SA-M catalysts involves high-temperature treatments, leading to low yield with a random distribution of atoms. Herein, a nature-based facile method to synthesize SA-M catalysts (M = Fe, Ir, Pt, Ru, Cu, or Pd) in a single step at ambient temperature, using the extracellular electron transfer capability of Geobacter sulfurreducens (GS), is presented. Interestingly, the SA-M is coordinated to three nitrogen atoms adopting an MN3 on the surface of GS. Dry samples of SA-Ir@GS without further heat treatment show exceptionally high activity for oxygen evolution reaction when compared to benchmark IrO2 catalyst and comparable hydrogen evolution reaction activity to commercial 10 wt% Pt/C. The SA-Ir@GS exhibits the best water-splitting performance compared to other SA-M@GS, showing a low applied potential of 1.65 V to achieve 10 mA cm−2 in 1.0 M KOH with cycling over 5 h. The density functional calculations reveal that the large adsorption energy of H2O and moderate adsorption energies of reactants and reaction intermediates for SA-Ir@GS favorably improve its activity. This synthesis method at room temperature provides a versatile platform for the preparation of SA-M catalysts for various applications by merely altering the metal precursors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics