Electrocatalysis for solar fuels
Marc T.M. Koper
Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, PO Box 9502, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
In the decades to come, mankind will have to make a significant shift in the way it deals with our planet’s available resources, and in particular in our use of energy. It is not difficult to argue that the sun is the only sustainable source of energy available to us, and electrochemistry and catalysis will play a key role in harvesting, storing and releasing that energy. In this talk, I will first summarize the application of the Sabatier principle to multi-electron transfer reactions and demonstrate how the rate of such reactions crucially depends on the free energy relations between intermediates. Next I will discuss experimental examples of various relevant reactions: water oxidation on gold, alcohol oxidation, and carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide reduction on copper electrodes, studied on single-crystalline electrodes in an electrochemical cell, using a variety of experimental and computational methods.