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Metal-based electrocatalysts with different sizes (single atoms, nanoclusters, and nanoparticles) show different catalytic behaviors for various electrocatalytic reactions. Regulating the coordination environment of active sites with precision to rationally design an efficient electrocatalyst is of great significance for boosting electrocatalytic reactions. This review summarizes the recent process of heterogeneous supported single atoms, nanoclusters, and nanoparticles catalysts in electrocatalytic reactions, respectively, and figures out the construct strategies and design concepts based on their strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, four key factors for enhancing electrocatalytic performance, including electronic structure, coordination environment, support property, and interfacial interactions are proposed to provide an overall comprehension to readers in this field. Finally, some insights into the current challenges and future opportunities of the heterogeneous supported electrocatalysts are provided.

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Design concept for electrocatalysts

Show Author's information Yao Wang§Xiaobo Zheng§Dingsheng Wang( )
Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

§ Yao Wang and Xiaobo Zheng contributed equally to this work.


Metal-based electrocatalysts with different sizes (single atoms, nanoclusters, and nanoparticles) show different catalytic behaviors for various electrocatalytic reactions. Regulating the coordination environment of active sites with precision to rationally design an efficient electrocatalyst is of great significance for boosting electrocatalytic reactions. This review summarizes the recent process of heterogeneous supported single atoms, nanoclusters, and nanoparticles catalysts in electrocatalytic reactions, respectively, and figures out the construct strategies and design concepts based on their strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, four key factors for enhancing electrocatalytic performance, including electronic structure, coordination environment, support property, and interfacial interactions are proposed to provide an overall comprehension to readers in this field. Finally, some insights into the current challenges and future opportunities of the heterogeneous supported electrocatalysts are provided.

Keywords: electronic structure, electrocatalysts, coordination environment, support effect, interfacial interactions



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Publication history

Publication history

Received: 25 June 2021
Revised: 01 August 2021
Accepted: 03 August 2021
Published: 04 September 2021
Issue date: March 2022


© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021



This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2018YFA0702003), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21890383 and 21871159), the science and Technology Key Project of Guangdong Province of China (No. 2020B010188002), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Nos. 2021M691757, 2021M690086, and 2021TQ0170).