Steering carbon dioxide reduction toward C-C coupling using copper electrodes modified with porous molecular films

Siqi Zhao, Oliver Christensen, Zhaozong Sun, Hongqing Liang, Alexander Bagger, Kristian Torbensen, Pegah Nazari, Jeppe Vang Lauritsen, Steen Uttrup Pedersen, Jan Rossmeisl*, Kim Daasbjerg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Copper offers unique capability as catalyst for multicarbon compounds production in the electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction reaction. In lieu of conventional catalysis alloying with other elements, copper can be modified with organic molecules to regulate product distribution. Here, we systematically study to which extent the carbon dioxide reduction is affected by film thickness and porosity. On a polycrystalline copper electrode, immobilization of porous bipyridine-based films of varying thicknesses is shown to result in almost an order of magnitude enhancement of the intrinsic current density pertaining to ethylene formation while multicarbon products selectivity increases from 9.7 to 61.9%. In contrast, the total current density remains mostly unaffected by the modification once it is normalized with respect to the electrochemical active surface area. Supported by a microkinetic model, we propose that porous and thick films increase both local carbon monoxide partial pressure and the carbon monoxide surface coverage by retaining in situ generated carbon monoxide. This reroutes the reaction pathway toward multicarbon products by enhancing carbon-carbon coupling. Our study highlights the significance of customizing the molecular film structure to improve the selectivity of copper catalysts for carbon dioxide reduction reaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number844
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


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