New metal persulfido compositions of matter are described. In one embodiment the metal is molybdenum and the metal persulfido complex mimics the structure and function of the triangular active edge site fragments of MoS.sub.2, a material that is the current industry standard for petroleum hydro desulfurization, as well as a promising low-cost alternative to platinum for electrocatalytic hydrogen production. This molecular [(PY5W.sub.2)MoS.sub.2].sup.x+ containing catalyst is capable of generating hydrogen from acidic-buffered water or even seawater at very low overpotentials at a turnover frequency rate in excess of 500 moles H.sub.2 per mole catalyst per second, with a turnover number (over a 20 hour period) of at least 19,000,000 moles H.sub.2 per mole of catalyst.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
The invention described and claimed herein was made in part utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-050411231 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Regents of the University of California for the management and operation of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The government has certain rights in this invention.