College of Engineering and Polymer Science

Date of Last Revision

2021-04-28 18:10:29


Chemical Engineering

Honors Course

4200: 497

Number of Credits


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2021


Identifying materials to efficiently facilitate the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is key to advancing water electrolysis, an essential technology in the pathway towards a sustainable energy future. Here, we explore cold-plasma treatment as a facile method to enhance the activity of NiP nanoparticles supported on activated carbon. NiP nanoparticles were synthesized on an activated carbon support using a solid-state method and were then treated with argon, oxygen, and hydrogen plasmas for extended times. In all cases, plasma treatment reduced the number of active sites on the support. OER activity was evaluated by testing the materials in alkaline conditions. The activities of the treated samples were normalized by the number of active sites estimated through electrochemical methods to provide the intrinsic activity of the material and a more direct activity comparison. A short 1-minute treatment in argon plasma yielded an approximate 19% increase in intrinsic activity (544 A/mmol) compared to the untreated NiP/C (456 A/mmol). Treatments in dilute 5% O2 (in Ar) and 1% H2 (in Ar) did not significantly benefit the OER activity of the catalyst. XPS analysis suggests the presence of higher valence active sites after treatment with argon plasma which may be responsible for the observed improvement.

Research Sponsor

Zhenmeng Peng

First Reader

Dezhen Wu

Second Reader

Scott Lillard

Honors Faculty Advisor

Bi-min Zhang-Newby



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