Nitrogen doped carbon nano-onions as efficient and robust electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reactions

Yan Zhang, Allen Reed, Doo Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We investigated synthesis and electrocatalytic performance of metal-free, nitrogen-doped carbon nano-onions (N-CNOs) for oxygen reduction reactions in alkaline electrolyte. N-CNOs were prepared by chemical oxidation of nanodiamond-derived carbon nano-onions (ox-CNOs), followed by thermal annealing with urea under the flow of argon gas. The chemical oxidation step was critical to successfully internalize nitrogen atoms into carbon network. Morphology, microstructure, and chemical states of carbon nano-onions (CNOs), ox-CNOs, and N-CNOs were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Electrocatalytic activity of pristine and modified CNOs was characterized by a series of electrochemical measurements. Electrochemical characterizations were done with thin film electrodes of CNOs mounted on a glassy carbon disk. Compared to CNOs and ox-CNOs, N-CNOs showed remarkably enhanced electron-transfer kinetics with the 4-electron transfer as a dominant reaction pathway. Overall, N-CNOs exhibited electrochemical characteristics comparable to commercial Pt/C catalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Applied Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Carbon nano-materials
  • Carbon nano-onions
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Nitrogen doping
  • Oxygen reduction reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Nitrogen doped carbon nano-onions as efficient and robust electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this