Mechanistic understanding of the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction – New developments based on advanced instrumental techniques

Ying Zhang, Si Xuan Guo, Xiaolong Zhang, Alan M. Bond, Jie Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)


Advanced instrumental techniques have played a crucial role in providing experimental evidence of reaction intermediates and kinetic information needed to correlate reactivity and product selectivity with the intrinsic properties of electrocatalysts used in the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (eCO2RR). In this review article, new developments in instrumental techniques for the mechanistic study of the eCO2RR under in situ or operando conditions are surveyed. Initially, the reaction pathways for the eCO2RR proposed in the literature are introduced to provide a basic understanding of the eCO2RR mechanisms and also to demonstrate the complexity of this reaction. Next, commonly used theoretical approaches for mechanistic studies of the eCO2RR including electrokinetic studies and theoretical calculation/modelling are outlined. The advantages and limitations associated with these approaches are highlighted to emphasise the importance of undertaking mechanistic studies under in situ or operando conditions using spectroscopic and electrochemical techniques. The main focus of this review is to summarise the research progress and discuss the advantages and limitations associated with each technique. Finally, in the Summary and Future Outlook Section, recommendations on possible future directions for the field are given.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100835
Number of pages22
JournalNano Today
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • CO reduction
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Electrochemical
  • In situ
  • Mechanism
  • Operando

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