Two-Dimensional Metal-Organic Networks as a New Class of Electrocatalysts

This thesis deals with the electrocatalytic properties of two-dimensional metal organic coordination networks (2D-MOCNs) self-assembled on electrode surfaces and catalytic activity of 2D-MOCNs is demonstrated for the first time. The low-coordinated metal centers within these supramolecular structures resemble the catalytically active sites of metallo-enzymes. The activity of the metal centers is determined by the type of the metal and the coordination environment; both parameters can be carefully adjusted in 2D-MOCNs. In order to study and correlate electrocatalytic properties with the atomic structure of 2D-MOCNs, a scanning tunnelling microscope operating in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) was combined with an electrochemical (EC) setup. Sample preparation and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) were conducted under UHV conditions. By STM the composition and structure of the networks were controlled and characterized prior to EC experiments. A transfer system between UHV and EC instrumentation was constructed to keep the sample at all times in a clean and controlled environment. It is demonstrated that the mechanism of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) can be influenced by the type of the metal center in the network. The networks formed by benzene-tricarboxylic acid (TMA) with either Fe or Mn atoms are structurally identical, but their electrochemical signal differs significantly. Both networks catalyze the reduction of O2 to H2O, but on different pathways. These results emphasize the key role of the unsaturated metal centers in the electrocatalytic reduction. The electrocatalytic response in the ORR can also altered by the distinct coordination environment; this is shown for Fe atoms nitrogen-coordinated by either tetracyanoquinodimethane (TCNQ), bis-pyridyl-bipyrimidine (PBP) or phythalocyanine (Pc). Depending on the specific coordination environment formed by the different ligands the the final product (H2O2 or H2O) and the mechanism of the ORR is changed. In the last part of this thesis the two metal binding sites of 5,10,15,20-tetra(4-pyridyl)porphyrin (TPyP) are used to selectively incorporate different metal centers in a fixed organic environment and create homo- and hetero-bimetallic networks. The coupling of the two metals centers promoted by the organic environment modifies the electrocatalytic response. The correct combination of two metal centers in the right positioning makes an efficient catalyst. In the ORR the peak and onset potential is varied depending on the metal combination. In the case of the oxygen evolution reaction a non-linearly increased catalytic activity by the cooperative bimetallic effect is obtained. The results presented in this thesis demonstrate the high potential of 2D-MOCNs for heterogeneous catalytic chemical conversions. Engineering of the network structure and the distinct coordination environment of the metal centers offers the possibility to tune their catalytic activity. This opens up a new route for the design of a new class of nanocatalyst materials.

Kern, Klaus
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis6783-6

 Record created 2015-09-25, last modified 2018-03-17

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