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Precise tuning of heteroatom positions in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons for electrocatalytic nitrogen fixation.

Authors
  • Gu, Zhengxiang1
  • Chen, Yijing1
  • Wei, Zengxi2
  • Qian, Linping1
  • Al-Enizi, Abdullah M3
  • Ma, Jianmin4
  • Zhou, Gang5
  • Zheng, Gengfeng6
  • 1 Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Department of Chemistry and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Catalysis and Innovative Materials, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China. , (China)
  • 2 School of Physics and Electronics, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, China. , (China)
  • 3 Department of Chemistry, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia. , (Saudi Arabia)
  • 4 School of Physics and Electronics, Hunan University, Changsha 410082, China. Electronic address: [email protected] , (China)
  • 5 Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Department of Chemistry and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Catalysis and Innovative Materials, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China. Electronic address: [email protected] , (China)
  • 6 Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Department of Chemistry and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Catalysis and Innovative Materials, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438, China. Electronic address: [email protected] , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Nov 15, 2020
Volume
580
Pages
623–629
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2020.07.046
PMID: 32711210
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The electrochemical dinitrogen reduction represents an attractive approach of converting N2 and water into ammonia, while the rational design of catalytic active centers remains challenging. Investigating model molecular catalysts with well-tuned catalytic sites should help to develop a clear structure-activity relationship for electrochemical N2 reduction. Herein, we designed several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules with well-defined positions of boron and nitrogen atoms. Theoretical calculations revealed that the boron atoms possess high local positive charge densities as Lewis acid sites, which are beneficial for N2 adsorption and activation, thus serving as major catalytic active sites for N2 electrochemical reduction. Furthermore, the close vicinity of two boron atoms can further enhance the local positive density and subsequent catalytic activity. Using the PAH molecule with two boron atoms separated by two carbon atoms (B-2C-B), a high NH3 production rate of 34.58 μg·h-1·cm-2 and a corresponding Faradaic efficiency (5.86%) were achieved at -0.7 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode, substantially exceeding the other PAHs with single boron or nitrogen-containing molecular structures. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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