Defect-rich fluorographene nanosheets for artificial N2 fixation under ambient conditions†
NH3, synthesized by the Haber–Bosch process, is essential for fertilisers in order to feed the world's growing population, however, it causes massive energy consumption and generates large amounts of greenhouse gases. Electrochemical N2 reduction reaction (NRR) at ambient conditions is highly desirable for energy-efficient and sustainable NH3 production but this requires an efficient catalyst. In this work, we report a defect-rich fluorographene nanosheet synthesised via fluorination of graphene for NRR electrocatalysis. Such an electrocatalyst shows an NH3 formation rate of 9.3 μg h−1 mgcat.−1 and a faradaic efficiency of 4.2% at −0.7 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode in 0.1 M Na2SO4. Density functional theory calculations reveal that the fluorination of graphene induces defects, which not only provide reaction sites for NRR but effectively activate N2 molecules.