Journal article Open Access
Molybdenum sulphide is an emerging precious-metal-free catalyst for cathodic water splitting. As its active sites catalyse the Volmer hydrogen adsorption step, it is particularly active in acidic media. This study focused on the electrochemical deposition of MoS2 on copper foam electrodes and the characterisation of their electrocatalytic properties. In addition, the electrodeposition was modified by adding a reducing agent—sodium hypophosphite—to the electrolyte. To reveal the role of hypophosphite, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis was carried out in addition to scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). MoS2 films, electrodeposited at various charges passed through the cell (catalyst loadings), were tested for their catalytic activity towards hydrogen evolution in 0.5 M H2SO4. Polarisation curves and Tafel slope analysis revealed that the electrodeposited MoS2 films are highly active. Namely, Tafel slopes fell within the 40–50 mV dec1 range. The behaviour of as-deposited films was also evaluated by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy over a wide overpotential range (0 to 0.3 V), and two clear time constants were distinguished. Through equivalent electrical circuit analysis, the experimental data were fitted to the appropriate model, and the obtained values of the circuit components were examined as a function of overpotential. It was found that the addition of NaH2PO2 into the electrodeposition solution a ects the intrinsic activity of the material. Finally, a method is proposed to approximate the number of active sites from impedance data.