The atomic-level regulation of single-atom site catalysts for the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction
The electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) is viewed as a promising way to remove the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into useful industrial products such as methane, methanol, formate, ethanol, and so forth. Single-atom site catalysts (SACs) featuring maximum theoretical atom utilization and a unique electronic structure and coordination environment have emerged as promising candidates for use in the CO2RR. The electronic properties and atomic structures of the central metal sites in SACs will be changed significantly once the types or coordination environments of the central metal sites are altered, which appears to provide new routes for engineering SACs for CO2 electrocatalysis. Therefore, it is of great importance to discuss the structural regulation of SACs at the atomic level and their influence on CO2RR activity and selectivity. Despite substantial efforts being made to fabricate various SACs, the principles of regulating the intrinsic electrocatalytic performances of the single-atom sites still needs to be sufficiently emphasized. In this perspective article, we present the latest progress relating to the synthesis and catalytic performance of SACs for the electrochemical CO2RR. We summarize the atomic-level regulation of SACs for the electrochemical CO2RR from five aspects: the regulation of the central metal atoms, the coordination environments, the interface of single metal complex sites, multi-atom active sites, and other ingenious strategies to improve the performance of SACs. We highlight synthesis strategies and structural design approaches for SACs with unique geometric structures and discuss how the structure affects the catalytic properties.