Shaping and coupling copper nanocrystals to drive selectivity in CO2RR
Raffaella Buonsanti a
a Department of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, Switzerland
Invited Speaker, Raffaella Buonsanti, presentation 017
Publication date: 7th June 2020

Correlating activity, selectivity and stability with the structure and composition of catalysts is crucial to advancing the knowledge in chemical transformations which are essential to move towards a more sustainable economy. Among these, the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) holds the promise to close the carbon cycle by storing renewable energies into chemical feedstocks, yet it suffers from the lack of efficient, selective and stable catalysts. Furthermore, fundamental catalytic studies should be complemented with investigations under commercially-relevant conditions to assure actual progress in the field.

In this talk, I will present our recent group efforts towards the synthesis of atomically defined nanocrystals (NCs) via colloidal chemistry and their use as CO2RR catalysts.

First of all, I will illustrate how tailor make copper NCs has helped to reveal synergy between shape and size and the importance of facet ratio in CO2RR. Furthermore, I will show that these relationships hold even when these catalysts are integrated in a gas-fed electrolyzers at technologically relevant conditions with currents up to 300 mA/cm2

I will then provide some examples of hybrid catalysts where copper domains are interfaced with a metallic doman or with a metal oxide doman. Specifically I will focus on Cu-Ag nanodimers, that combine tandem catalysis and electronic effects to promote C-C coupling, and Cu-CeO2 nanodimers, that promote methane formation as a result of ceria reduction and oxygen vacancies formation.

Finally, I will discuss the role of NCs as model systems to study degradation pathways using microscopy tenchiques These insights are essential when moving towards an actual technological implementation.


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