Materials that efficiently and selectively catalyse the reduction of CO2(CO2RR) into chemical feedstocks would open the path to a sustainable zero-emission energy conversion cycle in the making of fuels and base chemicals. Colloidal techniques demonstrated as impactful in the synthesis of metallic nanocrystals (NCs) presenting optimal selectivity towards energy dense products, ideal for energy storage. The challenges in rationalizing NCs synthesis pathway, stability in-operando, and the CO2RR mechanism they catalyse thus present a great reward.
To promote the synthesis of efficient and stable colloidal NCs for CO2RR, NanoCO2RE will encompass the study of all NCs life-stages by means of systematic in-silico investigations probing:
1) NCs application as catalysts, by screening the selectivity and activity of a large number of non equivalent adsorption sites that catalyse CO2RR, to identify the ideal ones to be engineered in a high-performance NC.
2) NCs eventual degradation in-operando, by sampling structural rearrangement in NCs presenting different size, shape, composition under reaction conditions, to single out suitable designs preventing detrimental NC restructuring.
3) NCs growth pathways, to establish NCs programmable synthesis route as a function of tunable parameters (precursors, temperature, reagents).
NanoCO2RE will exploit the combination of electronic structure, enhanced sampling, and big-data techniques to encode the necessary realistic complexity and predictive accuracy, and in turn to establish rational design criteria in the synthesis of stable and selective nanocatalysts for CO2RR. Beyond the use of state-of-the-art numerical tool, a strong interdisciplinary approach is at the grounds of the project: in-silico investigations will be synergically paralleled by akin experimental studies in the host laboratory. Theory and experiments coming together is indeed key in achieving advances in the rational design of nanocatalysts.
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