Enhanced electrocatalytic activity of Au@Cu core@shell nanoparticles towards CO2 reduction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Francisco Monzo Gimenez
  • Yvonne Malewski
  • Ruud Kortlever
  • Francisco Vidal-Iglesias
  • Jose Solla-Gullon
  • Marc Koper

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham
  • Universidad de Alicante
  • Leiden University
  • Leiden Univ


The development of technologies for the recycling of carbon dioxide into carbon-containing fuels is one of the major challenges in sustainable energy research. One of the main current limitations is the poor efficiency and fast deactivation of the catalyst. Core-shell nanoparticles are promising candidates for enhancing challenging reactions. In this work, Au@Cu core-shell nanoparticles with well-defined surface structures were synthetized and evaluated as catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide in neutral medium. The activation potential, the product distribution and the long term durability of this catalyst was assessed by electrochemical methods, on-line electrochemical mass spectrometry (OLEMS) and on-line high performance liquid chromatography. Our results show that the catalytic activity and the selectivity can be tweaked as a function of the thickness of Cu shells. We have observed that the Au cubic nanoparticles with 7-8 layers of copper present higher selectivity towards the formation of hydrogen and ethylene; on the other hand, we observed that Au cubic nanoparticles with more than 14 layers of Cu are more selective towards the formation of hydrogen and methane. A trend in the formation of the gaseous products can be also drawn. The H2 and CH4 formation increases with the number of Cu layers, while the formation of ethylene decreases. Formic acid was the only liquid species detected during CO2 reduction. Similar to the gaseous species, the formation of formic acid is strongly dependent on the number of Cu layers on the core@shell nanoparticles. The Au cubic nanoparticles with 7-8 layer of Cu showed the largest conversion of CO2 to formic acid at potentials higher than 0.8V vs RHE. The observed trends in reactivity and selectivity are linked to catalyst composition, surface structure and strain/electronic effects.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23690-23698
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number3
Early online date15 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2015


  • core shell nanoparticles, CO2 reduction, electrochemistry, lattice strain