Probing the Mechanism of Aqueous CO2 Reduction on Post-Transition-Metal Electrodes using ATR-IR Spectroelectrochemistry

James E. Pander, Maor F. Baruch, Andrew Bruce Bocarsly

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180 Scopus citations


The role of metastable surface oxides in the reduction of CO2 on lead, bismuth, tin, and indium electrodes was probed using in situ attenuated total reflectance infrared (ATR-IR) spectroelectrochemistry. The effect of the surface oxide on the Faradaic efficiency of CO2 reduction to formic acid was studied by etching and anodizing the electrodes, and the results were correlated with respect to the observed spectroscopic behavior of the catalysts. A metastable oxide is observed on lead, tin, and indium cathodes under the electrochemical conditions necessary for CO2 reduction. Spectroscopic evidence suggests that bismuth electrodes are fully reduced to the metal under the same conditions. The dynamics of the electroreduction of CO2 at lead and bismuth electrodes appears to be different from that on on tin and indium electrodes, which suggests that these catalysts act through different mechanistic pathways. The post-transition-metal block can be divided into three classes of materials: oxide-active materials, oxide-buffered materials, and oxide-independent materials, and the mechanistic differences are discussed. (Chemical Equation Presented).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7824-7833
Number of pages10
JournalACS Catalysis
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 4 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


  • CO reduction
  • CO utilization
  • electrocatalysis
  • in situ IR spectroscopy
  • p-block metals
  • spectroelectrochemistry


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