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Developing efficient and stable catalysts for the electrocatalytic N2 reduction reaction (NRR) shows promise in nitrogen fixation. Here, we proposed active and stable single-atom catalysts (SACs) toward NRR, where transition metals are anchored on nitrogenated carbon nanotubes (NCNTs). Among the screened nine common transition metals (Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Mo, Ru, Rh, and Ag) on (4, 4) NCNTs, we found Mo-NCNT possesses the most excellent NRR catalytic activity and selectivity with a low overpotential of 0.29 V. Then, the NRR performance of Mo-NCNT was further engineered by controlling the nanotube diameter, where the lowest overpotential is 0.18 V at a diameter of 9.6 Å. In addition, we found a linear scaling relation between *NNH and *NH2 on the studied catalysts with the exception of (2, 2) and (3, 3) Mo-NCNTs, owing to their extremely unstable structures. We attribute the outstanding NRR performance of Mo-NCNT to the moderate adsorption of N2 due to the slightly low d-band center of Mo, and the charge donating and accepting capacity of NCNTs. This work has provided a deeper insight into designing high-efficiency and stable NRR SACs supported by NCNTs.


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Computational study of transition metal single-atom catalysts supported on nitrogenated carbon nanotubes for electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction

Show Author's information Yanyang Qin1Yan Li1Wenshan Zhao1Shenghua Chen2Tiantian Wu1( )Yaqiong Su1( )
School of Chemistry, Xi'an Key Laboratory of Sustainable Energy Materials Chemistry, State Key Laboratory of Electrical Insulation and Power Equipment, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China
Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Abstract

Developing efficient and stable catalysts for the electrocatalytic N2 reduction reaction (NRR) shows promise in nitrogen fixation. Here, we proposed active and stable single-atom catalysts (SACs) toward NRR, where transition metals are anchored on nitrogenated carbon nanotubes (NCNTs). Among the screened nine common transition metals (Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Mo, Ru, Rh, and Ag) on (4, 4) NCNTs, we found Mo-NCNT possesses the most excellent NRR catalytic activity and selectivity with a low overpotential of 0.29 V. Then, the NRR performance of Mo-NCNT was further engineered by controlling the nanotube diameter, where the lowest overpotential is 0.18 V at a diameter of 9.6 Å. In addition, we found a linear scaling relation between *NNH and *NH2 on the studied catalysts with the exception of (2, 2) and (3, 3) Mo-NCNTs, owing to their extremely unstable structures. We attribute the outstanding NRR performance of Mo-NCNT to the moderate adsorption of N2 due to the slightly low d-band center of Mo, and the charge donating and accepting capacity of NCNTs. This work has provided a deeper insight into designing high-efficiency and stable NRR SACs supported by NCNTs.

Keywords: carbon nanotubes, nitrogen doping, density functional theory (DFT), nitrogen reduction, single-atom catalysts

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Publication history
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Acknowledgements

Publication history

Received: 30 June 2022
Revised: 18 July 2022
Accepted: 20 July 2022
Published: 20 August 2022
Issue date: January 2023

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© Tsinghua University Press 2022

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This work is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 22103059). Y. S. acknowledges the “Young Talent Support Plan” of Xi'an Jiaotong University and the Open Funds of State Key Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Solid Surfaces (Xiamen University No. 202018). Supercomputing facilities were provided by Hefei Advanced Computing Center.

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