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Laser method could make improved clean fuel


23 Apr 2019

Clean fuel could be developed more efficiently using a laser spectroscopy method, it has been found by a group of Liverpool researchers.
Georgina Hines

Using Vibrational Sum-Frequency Generation (VSFG) spectroscopy, the group studied the electrocatalyst Mn(bpy)(CO)3Br and discovered that key intermediates necessary for the reduction of CO2 were present at an electrode surface for a limited time.

Mn(bpy)(CO)3Br is widely researched for its potential as a CO2 reduction electrocatalyst. This discovery could lead to a deeper understanding of its function and the CO2 reduction pathway, and eventually lead to more efficient production of clean, sustainable fuels.

The research was undertaken by the University of Liverpool, UK, in collaboration with Beijing Computational Science Research Center, China, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.

‘A huge challenge in studying electrocatalysts in situ is having to discriminate between the single layer of short-lived intermediate molecules at the electrode surface and the surrounding “noise” from inactive molecules in the solution,’ said Dr Gaia Neri, Research Associate in Chemistry at the University of Liverpool.

‘We’ve shown that VSFG makes it possible to follow the behaviour of even very short-lived species in the catalytic cycle. This is exciting as it provides researchers with new opportunities to better understand how electrocatalysts operate, which is an important next step towards commercialising the process of electrochemical CO2 conversation into clean fuel technology.’

The international team is now looking to refine the technique and improve its sensitivity

DOI: 10.1038/s41929-018-0169-3

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