Optimizing Electron Densities of Ni-N-C Complexes by Hybrid Coordination for Efficient Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction
2019 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Metal-N-C is a type of attractive electrocatalyst for efficient CO2 reduction to CO. Because of the ambiguity in their atomic structures, the active sites and catalytic mechanisms of the catalysts have remained under debate. Here, the effects of N and C hybrid coordination on the activity of Ni-N-C catalysts were investigated, combining theoretical and experimental methods. The theoretical calculations revealed that N and C hybrid coordination greatly enhanced the capability of single-atom Ni active sites to provide electrons to reactant molecules and strengthens the bonding of Ni to N and C in the Ni-N-C complexes. During the reaction process, the C and N coordination synergistically optimized the reaction energies in the conversion of CO2 to CO. A good agreement between theoretical calculations and electrochemical experiments was achieved based on the newly developed Ni-N-C electrocatalysts. The activity of hybrid-coordination NiN2C2 was more than double that of single-coordination NiN4.