Researchers from the National Institute for Cryogenics and Isotopic Technologies ICSI-Rm in Romania have applied microwave processes to iodine doping and reduction of graphene oxide, to produce functionalized fuel cell organic reduction reaction electrocatalysts. The team chose to utilize microwave-assisted processes because of their many benefits, like reduced energy, time, and cost demands.
The process developed by the team relies on a faster, simpler, more economical, and efficient protocol under atmospheric pressure conditions. Under mild conditions, the microwave-assisted process highlighted in the research synthesizes a canvas-like iodine/reduced graphene oxide structure from graphene oxide. Thus, a low-cost, efficient alternative to platinum-based catalysts has been developed.
In the study, the team fabricated iodine-doped graphene, with specific structural and morphological properties. The microwave-assisted doping and functionalization process was achieved in a single step, reducing the complexity of preparation methods, giving it a distinct advantage over conventional synthesis methods. Temperature, pressure, power, reaction time, and doping concentration were optimized.
The organic reduction reaction electrochemical activity of the produced electrocatalytic material was confirmed using rotation disk electrode polarization and cyclic voltammetry techniques. Iodine doping, promoted by load transfer complex formation, was said to govern the enhanced organic reduction reaction activity of the prepared materials. These complexes improve the graphene’s functionalization capacity.
With an extremely short reaction time of 15 minutes and mild processing conditions, the microwave-assisted iodine-doped electrocatalytic materials presented in the study could provide a route toward low-cost and highly efficient fuel cell electrodes with enhanced organic reduction reaction activities. Green synthesis methods will improve the cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness of fuel cell electrode manufacture and, consequently, fuel cells themselves.