Opportunities and Challenges of Solar-Energy-Driven Carbon Dioxide to Fuel Conversion with Plasmonic Catalysts

Sungju Yu, Andrew J. Wilson, Gayatri Kumari, Xueqiang Zhang, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The ability of plasmonic nanoparticles to harness visible light can be being combined with their catalytic activity to drive photocatalytic transformations. This Review introduces the promise of this new class of photocatalysts for fulfilling the quest for sunlight-driven recycling of CO2 into transportable liquid fuels. We discuss the prospects and challenges of such an approach. Despite considerable advances, a selective, stable, and efficient CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) catalyst has been elusive. These open challenges may be addressable by the strategic utilization of plasmonic light excitation. Plasmonic catalysts have exhibited the ability to drive a rich milieu of CO2RR processes under visible light excitation. At this stage, improved mechanistic understanding and reaction control are needed. To motivate rational design of photocatalytic materials and processes by a future generation of researchers, we suggest potential pathways by which plasmonic-assisted CO2RR can take place. We describe unique physical and chemical aspects of plasmonic catalysis, some of which may allow modulation of CO2RR product selectivity in favor of higher hydrocarbons. The intertwining of the photophysics of plasmon resonances and chemistry of CO2RR creates a wide-open space for fundamental inquiry and technological development. Whether the future of artificial photosynthesis is "plasmonic" will be dictated by scientific understanding and engineering advances accomplished in the coming decade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2058-2070
Number of pages13
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 8 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Materials Chemistry

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