Electrochemical Reduction of N2 into NH3 by Donor-Acceptor Couples of Ni and Au Nanoparticles with a 67.8% Faradaic Efficiency

Zhong Hua Xue, Shi Nan Zhang, Yun Xiao Lin, Hui Su, Guang Yao Zhai, Jing Tan Han, Qiu Ying Yu, Xin Hao Li*, Markus Antonietti, Jie Sheng Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


The traditional NH3 production method (Haber-Bosch process) is currently complemented by electrochemical synthesis at ambient conditions, but the rather low selectivity (as indicated by the Faradaic efficiency) for the electrochemical reduction of molecular N2 into NH3 impedes the progress. Here, we present a powerful method to significantly boost the Faradaic efficiency of Au electrocatalysts to 67.8% for the nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) by increasing their electron density through the construction of inorganic donor-acceptor couples of Ni and Au nanoparticles. The unique role of the electron-rich Au centers in facilitating the fixation and activation of N2 was also investigated via theoretical simulation methods and then confirmed by experimental results. The highly coupled Au and Ni nanoparticles supported on nitrogen-doped carbon are stable for reuse and long-term performance of the NRR, making the electrochemical process more sustainable for practical application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14976-14980
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 25 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21722103, 21720102002, and 21673140), and the SJTU-MPI partner group.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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