Photocatalytic and electrocatalytic transformations of C1 molecules involving C–C coupling
Selective transformation of one-carbon (C1) molecules, which are abundant or easily available and inexpensive carbon feedstocks, into value-added multi-carbon (C2+) compounds is a very attractive but highly challenging research target. Photocatalysis and electrocatalysis have offered great opportunities for the activation and controllable C–C coupling of C1 molecules under mild and environmentally benign conditions. This article provides a critical review on recent advances in photocatalytic and electrocatalytic conversions of major C1 molecules, including CO, CO2, CH4, CH3OH and HCHO, into C2+ compounds, such as C2H4, C3H6, ethanol and ethylene glycol, which play essential roles in the current chemical or energy industry. Besides the photocatalysts and electrocatalysts reported for these conversions, the structure–performance relationships and the key factors that control the activity and product selectivity are analysed to provide insights into the rational design of more efficient catalysts for the synthesis of C2+ compounds from C1 feedstocks. The active species, reaction intermediates and reaction or catalyst-functioning mechanism are discussed to deepen the understanding of the chemistry for the activation and selective C–C coupling of C1 molecules in the presence of solar energy or electrical energy.