February 15, 2023

Volume 145, Issue 6

Pages 3255-3826

Body-Centered-Cubic-Kernelled Ag15Cu6 Nanocluster with Alkynyl Protection: Synthesis, Total Structure, and CO2 Electroreduction

While atomically monodisperse nanostructured materials are highly desirable to unravel the size- and structure-catalysis relationships, their controlled synthesis and the atomic-level structure determination pose challenges. Particularly, copper-containing atomically precise alloy nanoclusters are potential catalyst candidates for the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (eCO2RR) due to high abundance and tunable catalytic activity of copper. Herein, we report the synthesis and total structure of an alkynyl-protected 21-atom AgCu alloy nanocluster [Ag15Cu6(C≡CR)18(DPPE)2]−, denoted as Ag15Cu6 (HC≡CR: 3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)phenylacetylene; DPPE: 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)ethane). The single-crystal X-ray diffraction reveals that Ag15Cu6 consists of an Ag11Cu4 metal core exhibiting a body-centered cubic (bcc) structure, which is capped by 2 Cu atoms, 2 Ag2DPPE motifs, and 18 alkynyl ligands. Interestingly, the Ag15Cu6 cluster exhibits excellent catalytic activity for eCO2RR with a CO faradaic efficiency (FECO) of 91.3% at −0.81 V (vs the reversible hydrogen electrode, RHE), which is much higher than that (FECO: 48.5% at −0.89 V vs RHE) of Ag9Cu6 with bcc structure. Furthermore, Ag15Cu6 shows superior stability with no significant decay in the current density and FECO during a long-term operation of 145 h. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the de-ligated Ag15Cu6 cluster can expose more space at the pair of AgCu dual metals as the efficient active sites for CO formation.

  • Guocheng Deng
  • Jimin Kim
  • Megalamane S. Bootharaju
  • Fang Sun
  • Kangjae Lee
  • Qing Tang
  • Yun Jeong Hwang
  • Taeghwan Hyeon

Image created by minjeong Kim / Nanosphere