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Deconstructing the Enhancing Effect on CO2 Activation in the Electric Double Layer with EVB Dynamic Reaction Modeling

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-10-01, 09:15 authored by Xiaoyu Chen, Mårten S. G. Ahlquist
The reactivities of the same molecular electrocatalyst under homogeneous and heterogeneous conditions can be dramatically different, highlighting that the reaction environment plays an important role in catalysis. For catalysis on solid electrodes, reactions take place in the electric double layer (EDL), where a strong electric field is experienced. In this work, empirical valence bond molecular dynamics (EVB-MD) was used to explore CO2 binding in the EDL. It allows explicit descriptions of the solvent, electrolyte, catalyst–reactant, and the electrode surface material, as well as an unbiased description of the applied electric field. The strong local electric field concentrates cations, which in turn stabilizes the bound CO2. Furthermore, controlled computational experiments suggest that neither the electric field nor the cations alone can produce significant stabilization, but that the combination leads to a dramatic stabilization of the CO2 bound state.