Layered SnS versus SnS2: Valence and Structural Implications on Electrochemistry and Clean Energy Electrocatalysis

Xinyi Chia, Petr Lazar, Zdeněk Sofer, Jan Luxa, Martin Pumera

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82 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the far-reaching applications of layered Sn chalcogenides to date, their electrochemistry and electrochemical and electrocatalytic properties remain a mystery. The bulk of current research highlights promising uses of layered Sn chalcogenides with limited discourse on the relevance of Sn valency or crystal structures to their properties. We therefore examine the electrochemistry of orthorhombic SnS and hexagonal SnS2, and determine the implications to their electrocatalytic applications, namely, oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), oxygen evolution reaction (OER), and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Higher inherent electroactivity has been demonstrated in SnS2 as indicated by three distinct cathodic signals juxtaposed with a broad reduction peak in the largely electro-inactive SnS. In addition, SnS2 exhibits a faster heterogeneous electron transfer (HET) rate than SnS, though both are of less-than-sterling showing when compared to the glassy carbon (GC) electrode in terms of current intensity. The low onset potentials and current do not auger well for SnS and SnS2 as electrocatalysts for ORR and OER. Contrarily, both Sn chalcogenides fare better as HER electrocatalysts, surpassing the GC electrode. SnS2 exudes stronger HER electrocatalytic behavior than SnS. The differing HER performance is explained by means of HER electrode kinetics and density functional theory (DFT) calculation. Using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), SnS2 demonstrates significantly faster HER kinetics than SnS. The DFT study unveiled that the high electrocatalytic showing of SnS2 originated from the propitious δGH at the S edges. Conversely, δGH of SnS at all edges are disadvantageous for HER. The results provide crucial knowledge on the electrochemistry and electrocatalysis of Sn chalcogenides and create opportunities for future developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24098-24111
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 27

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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