Magnetron sputtered low-loading iridium-ruthenium thin films are investigated as catalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction at the anode of the Proton Exchange Membrane Water Electrolyzer. Electrochemical performance of 50 nm thin catalysts (Ir pure, Ir–Ru 1:1, Ir–Ru 1:3, Ru pure) is tested in a Rotating Disk Electrode. Corresponding Tafel slopes are measured before and after the CV-based procedure to compare the activity and stability of prepared compounds. Calculated activities prior to the procedure confirm higher activity of ruthenium-containing catalysts (Ru pure > Ir–Ru 1:3 > Ir–Ru 1:1 > Ir pure). However, after the procedure a higher activity and less degradation of Ir–Ru 1:3 is observed, compared to Ir–Ru 1:1, i.e. the sample with a higher amount of unstable ruthenium performs better. This contradicts the expected behavior of the catalyst. The comprehensive chemical and structural analysis unravels that the stability of Ir–Ru 1:3 sample is connected to RuO2 chemical state and hcp structure. Obtained results are confirmed by measuring current densities in a single cell.
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