We took the inspiration from nature’s enzyme chemistry6 which manipulate metal nanoclusters with ligands in photosynthesis, explored the possibility using engineered metal-ligand electrocatalyst to yield the hydrocarbon liquid products. Our previous work has shown that thiolate ligands can facilitate reduction and hydrogenation at neutral to mildly acidic pKa. Suitable ligands can significantly enhance the yield of CO or HCOOH (usually trace on Au) production. We are taking a step further by depositing strong CO binding metal nanoparticles on to salinized semiconductor substrate with proton donor group to create metal-ligand interfaces. We have observed enhanced CH3OH production in such systems. The engineered metal-ligand interface thus appear to be a highly promising method to promote hydrogenation routes in CO2 electrochemical reduction.
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