The field of electrocatalysis has undergone tremendous advancement in the past few decades, in part owing to improvements in catalyst design at the nanoscale. These developments have been crucial for the realization of and improvement in alternative energy technologies based on electrochemical reactions such as fuel cells. Through the development of novel synthesis methods, characterization techniques and theoretical methods, rationally designed nanoscale electrocatalysts with tunable activity and selectivity have been achieved. This Review explores how nanostructures can be used to control electrochemical reactivity, focusing on three model reactions: O2 electroreduction, CO2 electroreduction and ethanol electrooxidation. The mechanisms behind nanoscale control of reactivity are discussed, such as the presence of low-coordinated sites or facets, strain, ligand effects and bifunctional effects in multimetallic materials. In particular, studies of how particle size, shape and composition in nanostructures can be used to tune reactivity are highlighted.
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This work was supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF-Chemistry 1213182 and NSF-DMR-1207065) and the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the US Department of Energy (DE-FG02-08ER15995). Financial assistance from the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV at RUB (EXC 1069) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft is also greatly appreciated. Portions of this work received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) under the grant #03SF0433A “MEOKATS” and #03SF0523A “CO2EKAT”. S.K. acknowledges financial support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) through grant STR 596/5-1. B.R.C. and P.S. thank the European Community for partial funding under the flagship “Climate KIC/EnCO2re” program (Horizon2020).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Mistry, H., Varela, A., Kühl, S. et al. Nanostructured electrocatalysts with tunable activity and selectivity. Nat Rev Mater 1, 16009 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/natrevmats.2016.9
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