Boosting selective nitrogen reduction to ammonia on electron-deficient copper nanoparticles

Yun Xiao Lin, Shi Nan Zhang, Zhong Hua Xue, Jun Jun Zhang, Hui Su, Tian Jian Zhao, Guang Yao Zhai, Xin Hao Li*, Markus Antonietti, Jie Sheng Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Production of ammonia is currently realized by the Haber–Bosch process, while electrochemical N2 fixation under ambient conditions is recognized as a promising green substitution in the near future. A lack of efficient electrocatalysts remains the primary hurdle for the initiation of potential electrocatalytic synthesis of ammonia. For cheaper metals, such as copper, limited progress has been made to date. In this work, we boost the N2 reduction reaction catalytic activity of Cu nanoparticles, which originally exhibited negligible N2 reduction reaction activity, via a local electron depletion effect. The electron-deficient Cu nanoparticles are brought in a Schottky rectifying contact with a polyimide support which retards the hydrogen evolution reaction process in basic electrolytes and facilitates the electrochemical N2 reduction reaction process under ambient aqueous conditions. This strategy of inducing electron deficiency provides new insight into the rational design of inexpensive N2 reduction reaction catalysts with high selectivity and activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4380
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Boosting selective nitrogen reduction to ammonia on electron-deficient copper nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this