Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.141, No.42, 16635-16642, 2019
Ensemble Effect in Bimetallic Electrocatalysts for CO2 Reduction
Alloying is an important strategy for the design of catalytic materials beyond pure metals. The conventional alloy catalysts however lack precise control over the local atomic structures of active sites. Here we report on an investigation of the active-site ensemble effect in bimetallic Pd-Au electro-catalysts for CO2 reduction. A series of Pd@Au electrocatalysts are synthesized by decorating Au nanoparticles with Pd of controlled doses, giving rise to bimetallic surfaces containing Pd ensembles of various sizes. Their catalytic activity for electroreduction of CO2 to CO exhibits a nonlinear behavior in dependence of the Pd content, which is attributed to the variation of Pd ensemble size and the corresponding tuning of adsorption properties. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the Pd@Au electrocatalysts with atomically dispersed Pd sites possess lower energy barriers for activation of CO2 than pure Au and are also less poisoned by strongly binding *CO intermediates than pure Pd, with an intermediate ensemble size of active sites, such as Pd dimers, giving rise to the balance between these two rate-limiting factors and achieving the highest activity for CO2 reduction.