Mechanistic study of an immobilized molecular electrocatalyst by in situ gap-plasmon-assisted spectro-electrochemistry

D. Wright, Q. Lin, D. Berta, T. Földes, A. Wagner, J. Griffiths, C. Readman, E. Rosta*, E. Reisner*, J.J. Baumberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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Immobilized first-row transition metal complexes are potential low-cost electrocatalysts for selective CO2 conversion in the production of renewable fuels. Mechanistic understanding of their function is vital for the development of next-generation catalysts, although the poor surface sensitivity of many techniques makes this challenging. Here, a nickel bis(terpyridine) complex is introduced as a CO2 reduction electrocatalyst in a unique electrode geometry, sandwiched by thiol-anchoring moieties between two gold surfaces. Gap-plasmon-assisted surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy coupled with density functional theory calculations reveals that the nature of the anchoring group plays a pivotal role in the catalytic mechanism. Our in situ spectro-electrochemical measurement enables the detection of as few as eight molecules undergoing redox transformations in individual plasmonic hotspots, together with the calibration of electrical fields via vibrational Stark effects. This advance allows rapid exploration of non-resonant redox reactions at the few-molecule level and provides scope for future mechanistic studies of single molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
JournalNature Catalysis
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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