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Synergistic Enhancement of Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction with Gold Nanoparticles Embedded in Functional Graphene Nanoribbon Composite Electrodes.


Regulating the complex environment accounting for the stability, selectivity, and activity of catalytic metal nanoparticle interfaces represents a challenge to heterogeneous catalyst design. Here we demonstrate the intrinsic performance enhancement of a composite material composed of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) embedded in a bottom-up synthesized graphene nanoribbon (GNR) matrix for the electrocatalytic reduction of CO2. Electrochemical studies reveal that the structural and electronic properties of the GNR composite matrix increase the AuNP electrochemically active surface area (ECSA), lower the requisite CO2 reduction overpotential by hundreds of millivolts (catalytic onset > -0.2 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE)), increase the Faraday efficiency (>90%), markedly improve stability (catalytic performance sustained over >24 h), and increase the total catalytic output (>100-fold improvement over traditional amorphous carbon AuNP supports). The inherent structural and electronic tunability of bottom-up synthesized GNR-AuNP composites affords an unrivaled degree of control over the catalytic environment, providing a means for such profound effects as shifting the rate-determining step in the electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 to CO, and thereby altering the electrocatalytic mechanism at the nanoparticle surface.

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