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Van Marum Colloquium - Monitoring the dynamics of the heterogeneous interface during electrocatalysis

  • Dr. Sheena Louisia (Leiden University/Berkeley)
Thursday 25 August 2022
Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden


Our understanding of the electrocatalytic interface is central to optimizing more sustainable and clean-electricity-powered technologies. Both the surface structure and the chemical environment co-existing during electrocatalysis are subject to change as a result of the application of bias and the surface-bound reactants. It is therefore essential that the characterization of the interface formed and sustained during electrocatalysis is done during the reaction. Although vibrational spectroscopy methods have been decisive in developing our understanding of bound intermediates and their catalytic significance, other techniques should be explored in parallel to achieve a multidimensional and thus, more comprehensive picture of the catalytic system. To this end, developing operando imaging and X-ray spectroscopic methods is necessary to decouple structural from environmental effects on the progress of various electrochemical steps.

In this presentation, I will present the study of a dynamic nanocatalyst by the means of various ex situ, in situ, and eventually, operando techniques to understand the formation of intrinsically active sites for the CO2 electroconversion to multicarbon species. The high activity and unique properties of these features will be discussed in the context of the copper-based catalysts purposed for the high-efficiency electro-recycling of CO2 into value-added products. Furthermore, I will discuss several examples demonstrating the importance of the microenvironment formed upon bias application and the resulting prospects for the tunability of electrocatalysts’ activity. These insights will provide a more holistic perspective of the dynamic heterogeneous interface, further emphasizing the need for developing supplementary operando characterization techniques in the future.

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