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Electrocatalysis can enable efficient energy storage and conversion and thus is an effective way to achieve carbon neutrality. The unique structure and function of organisms can offer many ideas for the design of electrocatalysts, which has become one of the most promising research directions. Recently, the understanding of the mechanism of bio-inspired electrocatalysis has become clearer, which has promoted the design of bio-inspired catalysts and catalytic systems. Various bio-inspired catalysts (enzyme-like catalysts, layered porous catalysts, superhydrophobic/superhydrophilic surfaces, and so on) have been developed to enable efficient electrocatalytic reactions. Herein, we discuss the key advances in the field of bio-inspired electrocatalysts progressed in recent years. First, the role of bio-inspiration in increasing the intrinsic activity and number of active sites of catalysts is introduced. Then, the structure and mechanism of layered porous catalytic systems that mimic biological transport systems are comprehensively discussed. Subsequently, the design of three-phase interfaces from micro-nanoscale to atomic scale is highlighted, including the wettability of the electrode surface and the transport system near the electrode. We conclude the review by identifying challenges in bio-inspired electrocatalysts and providing insights into future prospects for the exciting research field.

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Advances in bio-inspired electrocatalysts for clean energy future

Show Author's information Jing-Wen DuanMuMin-Rui Gao( )
Division of Nanomaterials & Chemistry, Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale, Department of Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China


Electrocatalysis can enable efficient energy storage and conversion and thus is an effective way to achieve carbon neutrality. The unique structure and function of organisms can offer many ideas for the design of electrocatalysts, which has become one of the most promising research directions. Recently, the understanding of the mechanism of bio-inspired electrocatalysis has become clearer, which has promoted the design of bio-inspired catalysts and catalytic systems. Various bio-inspired catalysts (enzyme-like catalysts, layered porous catalysts, superhydrophobic/superhydrophilic surfaces, and so on) have been developed to enable efficient electrocatalytic reactions. Herein, we discuss the key advances in the field of bio-inspired electrocatalysts progressed in recent years. First, the role of bio-inspiration in increasing the intrinsic activity and number of active sites of catalysts is introduced. Then, the structure and mechanism of layered porous catalytic systems that mimic biological transport systems are comprehensively discussed. Subsequently, the design of three-phase interfaces from micro-nanoscale to atomic scale is highlighted, including the wettability of the electrode surface and the transport system near the electrode. We conclude the review by identifying challenges in bio-inspired electrocatalysts and providing insights into future prospects for the exciting research field.

Keywords: active sites, layered porous structure, bio-inspired electrocatalysts, three-phase interface



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Publication history

Publication history

Received: 30 May 2023
Revised: 28 June 2023
Accepted: 30 June 2023
Published: 19 August 2023
Issue date: February 2024


© Tsinghua University Press 2023



This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2018YFA0702001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 22225901, 21975237, and 22175162), the Anhui Provincial Research and Development Program (No. 202004a05020073), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. WK2340000101), the USTC Research Funds of the Double First-Class Initiative (No. YD2340002007), and the Open Funds of the State Key Laboratory of Rare Earth Resource Utilization (No. RERU2022007).