We propose the application of the contact potential from metal-metal junctions or the built-in potential of semiconductor p-n junctions to induce or catalyze chemical reactions. Free of external sources, this intrinsic potential across microscale and nanoscale vacuum gaps establishes electric fields in excess of 107 Vm. The electrostatic potential energy of these fields can be converted into useful chemical energy. As an example, we focus on the production of superthermal gas ions to drive reactions. Analysis indicates that this intrinsically biased electrocapacitive catalysis can achieve locally directed ion energies up to a few electron volts and local gas temperature boosts in excess of 104 K. Practical considerations for implementation and experimental tests are considered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry