Positive and Negative Effects of Dopants toward Electrocatalytic Activity of MoS2 and WS2: Experiments and Theory
- Veronika Urbanová, Petr Lazar, Nikolas Antonatos, Zdeněk Sofer, Michal Otyepka and Martin Pumera*
Two-dimensional transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are lately in the scope within the scientific community owing to their exploitation as affordable catalysts for next-generation energy devices. Undoubtedly, only precise tailoring and control over the catalytic properties can ensure high efficiency and successful implementation of such devices in day-to-day practical utilization. However, contrary to theoretical predictions, systematic experimental work dealing with the doped materials and their impact to electrocatalysis are relatively underrated despite the considerable effect that it could bring into this field. Herein, we investigate the effect of four different dopants (i.e., Ti, V, Mn, and Fe) incorporated to both layered MoS2 and WS2 as solid-state solution toward their electrocatalytic performance through their evaluation as catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Our results pointed out that doping by Mn and Fe can enhance the electrocatalytic performance toward ORR, whereas doping by Ti and V revealed poor electrocatalytic effects (inhibition) compared to both undoped MoS2 and WS2. Surprisingly, none of the dopants contributed to the improvement of either MoS2 or WS2 toward HER activity. Therefore, in addition to the experimental data, density functional theory calculations were performed to further investigate the role of the dopants in the performance of MoS2 toward HER. According to these calculations, all dopants preferably occupied the edges of the crystal structure and thus could affect the electrocatalytic properties of the initial material. However, the observed ΔG values for hydrogen adsorption revealed that MoS2 is the best catalyst with a subsequent trend for doped materials following the less negative binding energies V < Ti < Mn < Fe, which was in good agreement with experimentally obtained overpotentials of the respective samples. This study thus elucidates the reasons for negative effects of doping in TMDs. This study brings an insight that not all dopants are beneficial and not all reactions are affected in the same way by dopants in TMDs.
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