Electrochemical CO2 reduction to value-added chemical feedstocks is of considerable interest for renewable energy storage and renewable source generation while mitigating CO2 emissions from human activity. Copper represents an effective catalyst in reducing CO2 to hydrocarbons or oxygenates, but it is often plagued by a low product selectivity and limited long-term stability. Here we report that copper nanowires with rich surface steps exhibit a remarkably high Faradaic efficiency for C2H4 that can be maintained for over 200 hours. Computational studies reveal that these steps are thermodynamically favoured compared with Cu(100) surface under the operating conditions and the stepped surface favours C2 products by suppressing the C1 pathway and hydrogen production.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.
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The TEM work was conducted using the facilities in the Electron Imaging Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California Los Angles and the Irvine Materials Research Institute at the University of California Irvine. C.C., J.C., X.D. and Y.H. acknowledge support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) under grant no. N000141712608. S.K., T.C. and W.A.G. were supported by the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, supported through the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under Award no. DE-SC0004993. C.L., S.K. and H.M.L. used the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), which is supported by National Science Foundation grant no. ACI-1548562. C.L. and H.M.L. were also supported by a National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea grant funded by the Korean Government (no. NRF-2017R1E1A1A03071049). The work done at the University of California Irvine was supported by the Irvine Materials Research Institute and ExxonMobil.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Choi, C., Kwon, S., Cheng, T. et al. Highly active and stable stepped Cu surface for enhanced electrochemical CO2 reduction to C2H4. Nat Catal 3, 804–812 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-020-00504-x