Publication date: Nov 20, 2023
An excellent single-atomic photocatalyst, Ti@C₄N₃, is theoretically found to effectively convert CO₂ to C₂H₆ by density functional theory (DFT) calculations and non-adiabatic molecular dynamics (NAMD) simulations. The Ti@C₄N₃ photocatalyst has remarkable stability both thermally, chemically, and mechanically. Electronically, it has strong absorption properties, suitable band positions, and a long photogenerated electron lifetime, allowing photogenerated electrons to migrate to the surface. Notably, the high-valence active site effectively activates two CO₂ through dual activation: Under light irradiation, the weakly adsorbed CO₂ undergoes photo-induced activation by the photoelectron of conduction band minimum (CBM); without light, the high Lewis acidity of the Ti site induces CO₂ activation through back-donating π-bond. Contrast simulation results uncovered that dual activation of CO₂ is attributed to the thermal and photonic synergy. Furthermore, two activated CO₂ species under light easily couple to form oxalate with the barrier of 0.19 eV, and further reduced to C₂H₆ with a low activation energy of 1.09 eV.
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