Probing the Active Surface Sites for CO Reduction on Oxide-Derived Copper Electrocatalysts

Arnau Verdaguer Casadevall, Christina W. Li, Tobias Peter Johansson, Soren B. Scott, Joseph T. McKeown, Mukul Kumar, Ifan E. L. Stephens, Matthew W. Kanan, Ib Chorkendorff

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


CO electroreduction activity on oxide-derived Cu (OD-Cu) was found to correlate with metastable surface features that bind CO strongly. OD-Cu electrodes prepared by H-2 reduction of Cu2O precursors reduce CO to acetate and ethanol with nearly 50% Faradaic efficiency at moderate overpotential. Temperature-programmed desorption of CO on OD-Cu revealed the presence of surface sites with strong CO binding that are distinct from the terraces and stepped sites found on polycrystalline Cu foil. After annealing at 350 degrees C, the surface-area corrected current density for CO reduction is 44-fold lower and the Faradaic efficiency is less than 5%. These changes are accompanied by a reduction in the proportion of strong CO binding sites. We propose that the active sites for CO reduction on OD-Cu surfaces are strong CO binding sites that are supported by grain boundaries. Uncovering these sites is a first step toward understanding the surface chemistry necessary for efficient CO electroreduction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number31
Pages (from-to)9808-9811
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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