Copper single-atoms embedded in 2D graphitic carbon nitride for the CO2 reduction

by C. Cometto, A. Ugolotti, E. Grazietti, A. Moretto, G. Bottaro, L. Armelao, C. Di Valentin, L. Calvillo and G. Granozzi
npj 2D Materials and Applications 2021, 5, 63, pp 1-10 View at Publisher
DOI: 10.1038/s41699-021-00243-y

We report the study of two-dimensional graphitic carbon nitride (GCN) functionalized with copper single atoms as a catalyst for the reduction of CO2 (CO2RR). The correct GCN structure, as well as the adsorption sites and the coordination of the Cu atoms, was carefully determined by combining experimental techniques, such as X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray absorption, and X-ray photoemission spectroscopy, with DFT theoretical calculations. The CO2RR products in KHCO3 and phosphate buffer solutions were determined by rotating ring disk electrode measurements and confirmed by 1H-NMR and gas chromatography. Formate was the only liquid product obtained in bicarbonate solution, whereas only hydrogen was obtained in phosphate solution. Finally, we demonstrated that GCN is a promising substrate able to stabilize metal atoms, since the characterization of the Cu-GCN system after the electrochemical work did not show the aggregation of the copper atoms.