Controlled Synthesis of Unconventional Phase Copper-based Janus Nanostructures for Tandem Electrocatalytic Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Project: Research

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In past four decades, global carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in atmosphere has dramatically increased from 340 ppm to 415 ppm, resulting in many serious environmental problems including global warming, glacier melting and sea-level rise. Thus how to achieve carbon neutral has become an important/urgent task for the whole world, especially coastal areas like Hong Kong. Recently, electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR), which can convert CO2 to useful chemicals/fuels with intermittent renewable electricity, has emerged as a new strategy to address aforementioned environmental issues. Particularly, electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products (e.g., ethanol and ethylene) is extremely attractive as they possess large energy density and high economic value. To date, copper-based materials show the most promising CO2RR performance toward multi-carbon products. Nevertheless, due to the linear scaling relationship between reaction intermediates, large energy barrier for carbon-carbon coupling, and limited intrinsic activity of catalysts, electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products on current copper-based materials still suffers from poor selectivity, low current density and large overpotential.This project aims to develop high-performance unconventional phase copper-based metal tandem catalysts that can effectively and selectively convert CO2 to high-value multi-carbon products. We will synthesize various kinds of unconventional phase (e.g., 4H, 4H/fcc, and fcc2H-fcc) copper-based Janus nanostructures through the controlled growth of copper on particular regions of different unconventional phase metal nanostructures. Then the CO2RR performance of the novel Janus nanostructures will be systematically measured and optimized. After that, the mechanism of electrocatalytic CO2RR on Janus nanostructures will be uncovered via combination of ex-/in-situ experimental studies and theoretical calculations. The critical factors affecting CO2RR performance will be identified, together with establishment of general relationships between structure and performance. To demonstrate the potential of continuously generating specific multi-carbon products, a flow cell prototype of CO2RR will be constructed using the optimal unconventional phase copper-based catalysts. Our preliminary results have revealed the superior CO2RR performance of unconventional phase copper nanocrystals and silver/copper Janus nanostructures, indicating the high feasibility of this project.The PI has accumulated rich experience in crystal phase control of metal nanomaterials, templated synthesis of unconventional phase bi-/multi-metallic heteronanostructures, and electrocatalytic CO2RR. The facilities for materials syntheses and electrocatalytic measurements in the PI’s lab will enable the successful delivery of this project. The successful implementation of this project will inspire the design of next-generation CO2RR catalysts, promote practical application of CO2RR, and benefit Hong Kong and the world to achieve carbon neutral. 


Project number9048245
Grant typeECS
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …