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Mechanistic Understanding of Water Oxidation in the Presence of a Copper Complex by In Situ Electrochemical Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy


Balaghi, S Esmael; Mehrabani, Somayeh; Mousazade, Younes; Bagheri, Robabeh; Sologubenko, Alla S; Song, Zhenlun; Patzke, Greta R; Najafpour, Mohammad Mahdi (2021). Mechanistic Understanding of Water Oxidation in the Presence of a Copper Complex by In Situ Electrochemical Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 13(17):19927-19937.

Abstract

The design of molecular oxygen-evolution reaction (OER) catalysts requires fundamental mechanistic studies on their widely unknown mechanisms of action. To this end, copper complexes keep attracting interest as good catalysts for the OER, and metal complexes with TMC (TMC = 1,4,8,11-tetramethyl-1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane) stand out as active OER catalysts. A mononuclear copper complex, [Cu(TMC)(H2O)](NO3)2 (TMC = 1,4,8,11-tetramethyl-1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane), combined both key features and was previously reported to be one of the most active copper-complex-based catalysts for electrocatalytic OER in neutral aqueous solutions. However, the functionalities and mechanisms of the catalyst are still not fully understood and need to be clarified with advanced analytical studies to enable further informed molecular catalyst design on a larger scale. Herein, the role of nanosized Cu oxide particles, ions, or clusters in the electrochemical OER with a mononuclear copper(II) complex with TMC was investigated by operando methods, including in situ vis-spectroelectrochemistry, in situ electrochemical liquid transmission electron microscopy (EC-LTEM), and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis. These combined experiments showed that Cu oxide-based nanoparticles, rather than a molecular structure, are formed at a significantly lower potential than required for OER and are candidates for being the true OER catalysts. Our results indicate that for the OER in the presence of a homogeneous metal complex-based (pre)catalyst, careful analyses and new in situ protocols for ruling out the participation of metal oxides or clusters are critical for catalyst development. This approach could be a roadmap for progress in the field of sustainable catalysis via informed molecular catalyst design. Our combined approach of in situ TEM monitoring and a wide range of complementary spectroscopic techniques will open up new perspectives to track the transformation pathways and true active species for a wide range of molecular catalysts.

Abstract

The design of molecular oxygen-evolution reaction (OER) catalysts requires fundamental mechanistic studies on their widely unknown mechanisms of action. To this end, copper complexes keep attracting interest as good catalysts for the OER, and metal complexes with TMC (TMC = 1,4,8,11-tetramethyl-1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane) stand out as active OER catalysts. A mononuclear copper complex, [Cu(TMC)(H2O)](NO3)2 (TMC = 1,4,8,11-tetramethyl-1,4,8,11-tetraazacyclotetradecane), combined both key features and was previously reported to be one of the most active copper-complex-based catalysts for electrocatalytic OER in neutral aqueous solutions. However, the functionalities and mechanisms of the catalyst are still not fully understood and need to be clarified with advanced analytical studies to enable further informed molecular catalyst design on a larger scale. Herein, the role of nanosized Cu oxide particles, ions, or clusters in the electrochemical OER with a mononuclear copper(II) complex with TMC was investigated by operando methods, including in situ vis-spectroelectrochemistry, in situ electrochemical liquid transmission electron microscopy (EC-LTEM), and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis. These combined experiments showed that Cu oxide-based nanoparticles, rather than a molecular structure, are formed at a significantly lower potential than required for OER and are candidates for being the true OER catalysts. Our results indicate that for the OER in the presence of a homogeneous metal complex-based (pre)catalyst, careful analyses and new in situ protocols for ruling out the participation of metal oxides or clusters are critical for catalyst development. This approach could be a roadmap for progress in the field of sustainable catalysis via informed molecular catalyst design. Our combined approach of in situ TEM monitoring and a wide range of complementary spectroscopic techniques will open up new perspectives to track the transformation pathways and true active species for a wide range of molecular catalysts.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
08 Research Priority Programs > Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion
Dewey Decimal Classification:540 Chemistry
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Materials Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Materials Science
Language:English
Date:5 May 2021
Deposited On:14 Feb 2022 15:10
Last Modified:28 Jan 2024 02:44
Publisher:American Chemical Society (ACS)
ISSN:1944-8244
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.1c00243
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSII2_160801
  • : Project TitlePhotocatalytic Processes at Solvated Interfaces
  • Content: Accepted Version