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Adv Mater. 2019 Mar;31(13):e1805609. doi: 10.1002/adma.201805609. Epub 2018 Nov 15.

The Absence and Importance of Operando Techniques for Metal-Free Catalysts.

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Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 Cass Ave, Lemont, IL, 60439, USA.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada.
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Key Laboratory of Green Chemical Media and Reactions, Ministry of Education, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, 453007, China.
School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 62 Nanyang Drive, Singapore, 637459, Singapore.
X-Ray Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 Cass Ave, Lemont, IL, 60439, USA.


Operando characterization techniques have played a crucial role in modern technological developments. In contrast to the experimental uncertainties introduced by ex situ techniques, the simultaneous measurement of desired sample characteristics and near-realistic electrochemical testing provides a representative picture of the underlying physics. From Li-ion batteries to metal-based electrocatalysts, the insights offered by real-time characterization data have enabled more efficient research programs. As an emerging class of catalyst, much of the mechanistic understanding of metal-free electrocatalysts continues to be elusive in comparison to their metal-based counterparts. However, there is a clear absence of operando characterization performed on metal-free catalysts. Through the proper execution of operando techniques, it can be expected that metal-free catalysts can achieve exceptional technological progress. Here, the motivation of using operando characterization techniques for metal-free carbon-based catalyst system is considered, followed by a discussion of the possibilities, difficulties and benefits of their applications.


CO2 reduction; metal-air battery; metal-free electrocatalysts; operando characterization


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