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2022 Lv A Defect Engineered Electrocatalyst that Promotes High-Efficiency Urea Synthesis under Ambient Conditions

Synthesizing urea from nitrate and carbon dioxide through an electro-catalysis approach under ambient conditions is extraordinarily sustainable. However, this approach still lacks electrocatalysts developed with high catalytic efficiencies, which is a key challenge. Here, we report the high-efficiency electrocatalytic synthesis of urea using indium oxyhydroxide with oxygen vacancy defects, which enables selective C−N coupling toward standout electrocatalytic urea synthesis activity. Analysis by operando synchrotron radiation−Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy showcases that *CO2NH2 protonation is the potential-determining step for the overall urea formation process. As such, defect engineering is employed to lower the energy barrier for the protonation of the *CO2NH2 intermediate to accelerate urea synthesis. Consequently, the defect-engineered catalyst delivers a high Faradaic efficiency of 51.0%. In conjunction with an in-depth study on the catalytic mechanism, this design strategy may facilitate the exploration of advanced catalysts for electrochemical urea synthesis and other sustainable applications.

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