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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Feb 1;134(4):1986-9. doi: 10.1021/ja2108799. Epub 2012 Jan 20.

Tin oxide dependence of the CO2 reduction efficiency on tin electrodes and enhanced activity for tin/tin oxide thin-film catalysts.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, 337 Campus Drive, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


The importance of tin oxide (SnO(x)) to the efficiency of CO(2) reduction on Sn was evaluated by comparing the activity of Sn electrodes that had been subjected to different pre-electrolysis treatments. In aqueous NaHCO(3) solution saturated with CO(2), a Sn electrode with a native SnO(x) layer exhibited potential-dependent CO(2) reduction activity consistent with previously reported activity. In contrast, an electrode etched to expose fresh Sn(0) surface exhibited higher overall current densities but almost exclusive H(2) evolution over the entire 0.5 V range of potentials examined. Subsequently, a thin-film catalyst was prepared by simultaneous electrodeposition of Sn(0) and SnO(x) on a Ti electrode. This catalyst exhibited up to 8-fold higher partial current density and 4-fold higher faradaic efficiency for CO(2) reduction than a Sn electrode with a native SnO(x) layer. Our results implicate the participation of SnO(x) in the CO(2) reduction pathway on Sn electrodes and suggest that metal/metal oxide composite materials are promising catalysts for sustainable fuel synthesis.

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