Dodecahedral W@WC composite as efficient catalyst for hydrogen evolution and Nitrobenzene reduction reactions

Core-shell composites with strong phase-phase contact could provide an incentive for catalytic activity. A simple yet efficient H2O-mediated method has been developed to synthesize mesoscopic core-shell W@WC architecture with dodecahedral microstructure, via one-pot reaction. The H2O plays an important role in the resistance of carbon diffusion, resulting in the formation of the W core and W-terminated WC shell. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations reveal that adding W as core reduced the oxygen adsorption energy and provided the W-terminated WC surface. The W@WC exhibits significant electrocatalytic activities towards hydrogen evolution and nitrobenzene electro-reduction reactions, which are comparable to those found for commercial Pt/C, and substantially higher than those found for meso- and nano- WC materials. The experimental results were explained by DFT calculations based on the energy profiles in the hydrogen evolution reactions over WC, W@WC and Pt model surfaces. The W@WC also shows a high thermal stability and thus may serve as a promising more economical alternative to Pt catalysts in these important energy conversion and environmental protection applications. The current approach can also be extended or adapted to various metals and carbides, allowing for the design and fabrication of a wide range of catalytic and other multifunctional composites.