On the mechanism of hydrogen evolution catalysis by proteins: A case study with bovine serum albumin
The catalysis of the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) by proteins has been known for decades but was only recently found to be useful for electroanalytical purposes. The mechanism of the catalytic process is investigated at hanging mercury drop electrodes by cyclic voltammetry, with bovine serum albumin as a model system. It is shown that the catalyst is the protein in the adsorbed state. The influence of various parameters such as the accumulation time, scan rate or buffer concentration is studied, and interpreted in the framework of a surface catalytic mechanism. Under the experimental conditions used in the work, a "total catalysis" phenomenon takes place, the rate of HER being limited by the diffusion of the proton donor. The adequacy of the existing models is discussed, leading to a call for the development of more refined models. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.