Quantum-Dot-Derived Catalysts for CO2 Reduction Reaction

Min Liu*, Mengxia Liu, Xiaoming Wang, Sergey M. Kozlov, Zhen Cao, Phil De Luna, Hongmei Li, Xiaoqing Qiu, Kang Liu, Junhua Hu, Chuankun Jia, Peng Wang, Huimin Zhou, Jun He, Miao Zhong, Xinzheng Lan, Yansong Zhou, Zhiqiang Wang, Jun Li, Ali SeifitokaldaniCao Thang Dinh, Hongyan Liang, Chengqin Zou, Daliang Zhang, Yang Yang, Ting Shan Chan, Yu Han, Luigi Cavallo, Tsun Kong Sham, Bing Joe Hwang, Edward H. Sargent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Defect sites are often proposed as key active sites in the design of catalysts. A promising strategy for improving activity is to achieve a high density of homogeneously dispersed atomic defects; however, this is seldom accomplished in metals. We hypothesize that vacancy-rich catalysts could be obtained through the synthesis of quantum dots (QDs) and their electrochemical reduction during the CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR). Here, we report that QD-derived catalysts (QDDCs) with up to 20 vol % vacancies achieve record current densities of 16, 19, and 25 mAcm−2 with high faradic efficiencies in the electrosynthesis of formate, carbon monoxide, and ethylene at low potentials of –0.2, –0.3, and –0.9 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE), respectively. The materials are stable after 80 hr of CO2RR. These CO2RR performances in aqueous solution surpass those of previously reported catalysts by 2×. Together, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and computational studies reveal that the vacancies produce a local atomic and electronic structure that enhances CO2RR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1718
Number of pages16
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 17 2019


  • CO reduction reaction
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • electronic structure
  • in situ electrochemical reduction
  • metallic nanocrystals
  • quantum dots
  • vacancy-rich

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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