Efficient water oxidation at carbon nanotube–polyoxometalate electrocatalytic interfaces
Francesca M. Toma1,2, Andrea Sartorel3, Matteo Iurlo4, Mauro Carraro3, Pietro Parisse2,5, Chiara Maccato3, Stefania Rapino4, Benito Rodriguez Gonzalez6, Heinz Amenitsch7, Tatiana Da Ros1, Loredana Casalis2,5, Andrea Goldoni5, Massimo Marcaccio4, Gianfranco Scorrano3, Giacinto Scoles2, Francesco Paolucci4, Maurizio Prato1 & Marcella Bonchio3
Water is the renewable, bulk chemical that nature uses to enable carbohydrate production from carbon dioxide. The dream goal of energy research is to transpose this incredibly efficient process and make an artificial device whereby the catalytic splitting of water is finalized to give a continuous production of oxygen and hydrogen. Success in this task would guarantee the generation of hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel to satisfy our energy demands at no environmental cost. Here we show that very efficient and stable nanostructured, oxygen-evolving anodes are obtained by the assembly of an oxygen-evolving polyoxometalate cluster (a totally inorganic ruthenium catalyst) with a conducting bed of multiwalled carbon nanotubes. Our bioinspired electrode addresses the one major challenge of artificial photosynthesis, namely efficient water oxidation, which brings us closer to being able to power the planet with carbon-free fuels.