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Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIF) derived catalysts are being extensively investigated for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) due to their low cost, high tunability and facile fabrication. However, an understanding of the critical role of temperature during pyrolysis remains lacking, which makes catalyst design by thermal activation rely on empirical engineering.
During this Nanotalk, Dr. Xiaoxing Ke reveals the impact of temperature on microstructural evolution by in-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM). ZIF-67 is used as model material, and microstructural features of cobalt precipitation, nitrogen loss, together with porous carbon support formation are investigated and semi-quantified. A tradeoff between microstructural features is revealed and confirmed by ORR performance. By understanding the temperature-microstructure-ORR performance relationship, we can further design a simple low-temperature pyrolysis strategy and achieve an outstanding ORR activity. Although demonstrated on ZIF-67, the critical role of temperature as disclosed by this work is beneficial for all ZIF-related materials to further boost ORR performance. Meanwhile, this one-step strategy is easy to implement and allows scaling up for industrial purposes.
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