We activated gold electrodes for their use as electrocatalyst for water splitting by electrodepositing Cu, Ni and Co. A combination of operando x-ray absorption spectroscopy and potentiometric control under aqueous conditions revealed the trends in reactivity yielded by these electrodes, which are directly associated with the cross- and overpotentials as well as the occupancy of the 3d orbitals. It was found that under anodic polarization the materials electrodeposited on gold suffer from a lack of stability, while under cathodic polarization they exhibit stable behavior. The observed activity is strongly related to the lack of stability shown by these composites under anodic polarization revealing a dynamic process ruled by corrosion. By operando x-ray absorption, we established that the overall enhancement of the activity for the oxygen evolution reaction is directly attributable to the cross-potential and corrosion process of the electrodeposited materials. It is associated with the high potential deposition, which is the origin of the incipient oxidation-corrosion resistance of the lattice. We conclude that the observed trends in the total current are directly associated with the loss of oxygen in the metal-oxide lattice and the subsequent dissolution of metallic ions in the electrolyte under anodic polarization.
Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 50 (2), p.024002(10 pages)