Controlling Speciation during CO2 Reduction on Cu-Alloy Electrodes

Xinyi Chen, Danielle A. Henckel, Uzoma O. Nwabara, Yuanyuan Li, Anatoly I. Frenkel, Tim T. Fister, Paul J.A. Kenis, Andrew A. Gewirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrodeposition of Cu, Cu/Ag, and Cu/Sn alloy films by using 3,5-diamino-1,2,4-triazole (DAT) as an electrodeposition inhibitor yields a high surface area Cu-based catalyst. All three Cu-based electrodes exhibit high Faradaic efficiency (FE) of CO2 reduction toward C2H4 production. The CuSn-DAT electrode exhibits the highest FE for CO (∼90% at -0.4 V) and C2H4 (∼60% at -0.8 V) production and high current density (∼-225 mA/cm2 at -0.8 V). In situ surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) studies in a flow cell obtained from the three Cu-based samples show a correlation between the decreased oxide content on the Cu surface, increased presence of CO, and increased activity for CO and C2 production. The CuSn-DAT electrode has the lowest amount of Cu2O and exhibits the highest activity, whereas the Cu-DAT electrode has an increasing Cu2O content and exhibits lower activity as the potential is made negative. These results demonstrate that incorporation of different well-mixed alloy materials provides a way to tune CO2 reduction speciation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-682
Number of pages11
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2020


  • CO reduction
  • Raman
  • copper-alloy
  • cupric oxide
  • ethylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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