Reduction of carbon dioxide at a plasmonically active copper–silver cathode
Electrochemically deposited copper nanostructures were coated with silver to create a plasmonically active cathode for carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction. Illumination with 365 nm light, close to the peak plasmon resonance of silver, selectively enhanced 5 of the 14 typically observed copper CO2 reduction products while simultaneously suppressing hydrogen evolution. At low overpotentials, carbon monoxide was promoted in the light and at high overpotentials ethylene, methane, formate, and allyl alcohol were enhanced upon illumination; generally C1 products and C2/C3 products containing a double carbon bond were selectively promoted under illumination. Temperature-dependent product analysis in the dark showed that local heating is not the cause of these selectivity changes. While the exact plasmonic mechanism is still unknown, these results demonstrate the potential for enhancing CO2 reduction selectivity at copper electrodes using plasmonics.