Copper-on-nitride enhances the stable electrosynthesis of multi-carbon products from CO2

Zhi Qin Liang, Tao Tao Zhuang, Ali Seifitokaldani, Jun Li, Chun Wei Huang, Chih Shan Tan, Yi Li, Phil De Luna, Cao Thang Dinh, Yongfeng Hu, Qunfeng Xiao, Pei Lun Hsieh, Yuhang Wang, Fengwang Li, Rafael Quintero-Bermudez, Yansong Zhou, Peining Chen, Yuanjie Pang, Shen Chuan Lo, Lih Juann ChenHairen Tan, Zheng Xu, Suling Zhao, David Sinton, Edward H. Sargent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


Copper-based materials are promising electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. Prior studies show that the mixture of copper (I) and copper (0) at the catalyst surface enhances multi-carbon products from CO2 reduction; however, the stable presence of copper (I) remains the subject of debate. Here we report a copper on copper (I) composite that stabilizes copper (I) during CO2 reduction through the use of copper nitride as an underlying copper (I) species. We synthesize a copper-on-nitride catalyst that exhibits a Faradaic efficiency of 64 ± 2% for C2+ products. We achieve a 40-fold enhancement in the ratio of C2+ to the competing CH4 compared to the case of pure copper. We further show that the copper-on-nitride catalyst performs stable CO2 reduction over 30 h. Mechanistic studies suggest that the use of copper nitride contributes to reducing the CO dimerization energy barrier—a rate-limiting step in CO2 reduction to multi-carbon products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3828
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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