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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electrochemical Activation of CO2 through Atomic Ordering Transformations of AuCu Nanoparticles.

  • Author(s): Kim, Dohyung
  • Xie, Chenlu
  • Becknell, Nigel
  • Yu, Yi
  • Karamad, Mohammadreza
  • Chan, Karen
  • Crumlin, Ethan J
  • Nørskov, Jens K
  • Yang, Peidong
  • et al.

Precise control of elemental configurations within multimetallic nanoparticles (NPs) could enable access to functional nanomaterials with significant performance benefits. This can be achieved down to the atomic level by the disorder-to-order transformation of individual NPs. Here, by systematically controlling the ordering degree, we show that the atomic ordering transformation, applied to AuCu NPs, activates them to perform as selective electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. In contrast to the disordered alloy NP, which is catalytically active for hydrogen evolution, ordered AuCu NPs selectively converted CO2 to CO at faradaic efficiency reaching 80%. CO formation could be achieved with a reduction in overpotential of ∼200 mV, and catalytic turnover was enhanced by 3.2-fold. In comparison to those obtained with a pure gold catalyst, mass activities could be improved as well. Atomic-level structural investigations revealed three atomic gold layers over the intermetallic core to be sufficient for enhanced catalytic behavior, which is further supported by DFT analysis.

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