Study: Laser technique may open door to more efficient clean fuels

New research published in Nature Catalysis by researchers at the University’s Department of Chemistry, in collaboration with Beijing Computational Science Research Center and STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, demonstrates a laser-based spectroscopy technique that can be used to study the electrochemical reduction of CO2 in-situ and provide much-needed insights into these complex chemical pathways. The researchers used a technique called Vibrational Sum-Frequency Generation (VSFG) spectroscopy coupled with electrochemical experiments to explore the chemistry of a particular catalyst called Mn(bpy)(CO)3Br, which is one of the most promising and intensely studied CO2 reduction electrocatalysts. Using VSFG the researchers were able to observe key intermediates that are only present at an electrode surface for a very short time — something that has not been achieved in previous experimental studies. At Liverpool, the work was carried out by the Cowan Group, a team of researchers who study and develop new catalytic systems for the sustainable production of fuels.