A collaboration of CCST faculty
A collaboration of CCST faculty; Prof. Feng Jiao (Robert Graselli Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Prof. Bingjun Xu (Centennial Development Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) and Prof. Levi Thompson(Elizabeth Inez Kelly Professor of Engineering), just reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society important findings on the function of Cu-catalyzed electrocatalytic transformation of carbon dioxide/monoxide to valuable multicarbon molecules, an attractive strategy for combating climate change. Using in situ surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) they investigate the speciation of four commonly used Cu surfaces, they show that surface oxygen-containing species indeed exist in the alkaline electrolyte at potentials relevant to the carbon oxides reduction reaction on all types of Cu surfaces investigated. The presence of CO is necessary to stabilize surface oxide/hydroxide species on the Cu foil but not for micro/nanostructured Cu. They conclude that while CuOx and CuOx/(OH)y species do exist under reaction conditions, these species are unlikely to be the active sites facilitating the formation of C2 oxygenates.