WUT’s latest Research achievements of Professor Mu Shichun are published on the Applied Chemistry in Germany
  Recently, Professor Mu Shichun of WUT’s State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and Processing has made a significant progress in the research of electrochemical reactivity of carbon nanomaterials, the research results of which have been published on the international chemistry top journal Applied Chemistry in Germany.
  Hydrogen fuel cell, featured by cleanliness, efficiency, and safety, is considered as the future of new energy vehicles. For fuel cell, cathodic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is of paramount importance as the decisive step of reaction rate. However, the commercial oxygen reduction catalyst is platinum-based precious metal materials with expensive price, scarce resources and poor circulation stability, which seriously limits the industrial development of fuel cells. For this connection, non-precious metal catalysts for oxygen reduction have become the focus of research. Recent studies have suggested that carbon materials can be endowed with high oxygen reduction activity by doping heterogeneous atoms or controlling defect engineering, of which the topological deformation of carbon lattice (including carbon five-membered ring, seven-membered ring, Stone-Wales defect) can effectively regulate the charge state of the carbon-based surface. However, there is still no effective evidence whether it can promote the electrochemical reactivity of carbon materials.
  Therefore, WUT’s research group led by Professor Mu Shichun has carried out the study of the electrochemical reactivity of carbon lattice topological defect engineering. To begin with, through theoretical arithmetic, they found that the carbon five-membered ring (C5) can induce local electric charge rearrangement in the carbon layer, which has the larger charge density distribution, narrower energy band gap and higher oxygen binding energy than that of the carbon five-membered ring (C6). It is an ideal catalytic active center for oxygen reduction reaction. In order to obtain carbon materials rich in C5 defects, they skillfully chose fullerene (C60) with intrinsic C5 structure as raw material, and obtained carbon materials rich in C5 defects by in-situ alkali etching at high temperature. The Electrochemical tests show that C5 topologically deficient carbon materials have a 4-electron-reaction mechanism similar to platinum-based catalysts, which can promote oxygen reduction, and exhibit the better electrochemical stability and anti-poisoning performance than commercial Pt/C catalysts. In addition, the existence of C5 topological defects also significantly improved the characteristics of electric double layer capacitance of carbon materials.
  This study proves that the intrinsic pentagon defects have high electrochemical reactivity. The research results provide a new idea for designing and constructing high-performance carbon-based electro catalysts and energy storage electrode materials.