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Atomically Isolated Nickel Catalysts Fabricated via Spatial Sites Separation Strategy for Efficient CO2 Electroreduction

Jun 17, 2021

Electrochemical conversion of CO2 into valuable chemicals (such as CO) represents an important way to achieve carbon neutrality. In the field of electrocatalysis, atomically isolated metal catalysts (AIMCs) have attracted great attention because of their maximum atom utilization efficiency and tunable coordination microenvironment.  

At present, it remains a challenge to obtain porous carbon-based AIMCs by pyrolyzing precursors (such as polymers, metal-organic framework), as the single-atom metal active species are prone to migrate and agglomerate to form metal nanoparticles (MNPs) during preparation and catalytic processes. 

In a study published in ACS Material Letters, the research team led by Prof. CAO Rong and Prof. HUANG Yuanbiao from Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter (FJIRSM) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed an effective spatial sites separation strategy (SSSS) to prepare nickel single-atom catalyst (Ni5-PTF-1000) via separating potential target metal species by intrinsic frameworks.  

The researchers found that the nickel metal sites are anchored by the porphyrin-based covalent triazine framework (CTF), and the target nickel species are effectively separated spatially by using mixed monomers, so that they are captured by the empty nitrogen atoms during the pyrolysis process, thereby obtaining Single atom nickel catalyst.  

To be specific, the researchers copolymerized the TPPCN and Ni-TPPCN (Zn/Ni = 95/5) to give the porous porphyrinic triazine frameworks (denoted as PTF-ZnNi5) in the presence of ZnCl2 at 400 oC. 

On one hand, they separated the target Ni centers in PTF-ZnNi5 by the in situ formed Zn-N4 motifs that originated from the reaction of TPPCN unit and the molten ZnCl2 during the pyrolysis process. On the other hand, the overflowed Ni species can be stabilized by coordination with the generated free N sites left by zinc species during pyrolysis. This method avoided cumbersome and possibly damaging monoatomic catalysts. 

The Ni5-PTF-1000 possessed the capability of CO2 electroreduction towards CO and had a high FE of 94% at -0.9 V in CO2-saturated 0.5 M KHCO3. Notably, Ni5-PTF-1000 exhibited FECO over 91% in a wide potential range of -0.6 to -1.0 V. The ATR-IR spectra of Ni5-PTF-1000 showed the vibration peaks corresponding to C-O stretching of *COOH (~1400 cm–1), which indicated that the formation intermediate of *COOH was the rate determining step for CO2RR. 

This study develops a facile spatial sites separation strategy to afford atomically isolated nickel species anchored in porous nitrogen-doped carbons as electrocatalysts with high efficiency for CO2RR. This strategy presents a facile way to develop fully atomically isolated metal catalysts for applications including energy conversion and storage.  

 

Spatial Sites Separation Strategy to prepare atomically isolated nickel catalyst of Ni5-PTF-1000 and efficient CO2 electroreduction (Image by Prof. CAO’s group) 

Contact

CAO Rong

Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter

E-mail:

Spatial Sites Separation Strategy to Fabricate Atomically Isolated Nickel Catalysts for Efficient CO2 Electroreduction

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