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Metal-free electrocatalyst for reducing nitrogen to ammonia using a Lewis acid pair

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Abstract

Electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) is a promising way for the sustainable production of ammonia. However, it suffers from slow kinetics due to the difficulty of N[triple bond, length as m-dash]N bond activation and the side hydrogen evolution reaction. Herein, on the basis of the concept of “Lewis acid pair”, we propose a metal-free electrocatalyst based on boron-decorated black phosphorus by using extensive first-principles calculations. In the integrated structure of the catalyst, the doped B atoms serve as Lewis acid pairs and catalytic centers, while the channels of BP provide structural advantages for hosting the pair and activating the N[triple bond, length as m-dash]N bond. A new strategy of nitrogen activation based on the pull–pull effect is thus developed. Performance evaluations show that this metal-free catalyst is highly efficient for electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction with an ultra-low onset-potential of 0.19 V. This work opens a new possible avenue for nitrogen activation and can be generally applied to other two-dimensional or bulk materials.

Graphical abstract: Metal-free electrocatalyst for reducing nitrogen to ammonia using a Lewis acid pair

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Nov 2018, accepted on 30 Jan 2019 and first published on 30 Jan 2019


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA11025E
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article

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    Metal-free electrocatalyst for reducing nitrogen to ammonia using a Lewis acid pair

    L. Shi, Q. Li, C. Ling, Y. Zhang, Y. Ouyang, X. Bai and J. Wang, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA11025E

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