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Chemistry Article Summary and Critique

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In Nature Energy’s informative article titled “Solar conversion of CO2 to CO using Earth-abundant electrocatalysts prepared by atomic layer modification of CuO,” the focal point of the entire essay is emphasized through the main study, which involves the use of copper oxide nanowires, along with layers of tin oxide to transform CO2 into CO while implementing only natural energy with the use of sunlight. For the study, CuO nanowire electrodes were created by anodizing Cu films, which was followed by a heat treatment. The derived nanowires were thus coated with SnO2 through the use of the ALD system. The catalysts’ were eventually tested to evaluate their electrochemical performance, which in turn would test them for their catalytic activity as well. A select amount of CO2 molecules were then labeled, and was later used to display the fact that the CO, being formed, was derived from the starting CO2. As they continued to run tests, they came to the realization that a certain amount of SnO2 is required to reach the targeted effects of modifying the product distributions to augment the creation of CO. To gain more information on why nanowires tend to make CO, gas adsorption was eventually utilized to determine how strong the hydrogen and carbon dioxide attach to the surface of the catalysts. Their tests eventually led to the hypothesis that a decrease in adsorption strength of a key reaction intermediates on the surface, which thus led to testing of the hypothesis through chemisorption measurements.

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The nanowires were then eventually implemented to convert CO2, into CO. The reduction of CO2 was done in a bipolar membrane for they enabled continuous use of certain electrolyte compositions, for they exhibit varying pH values in two separate areas. Implementing the bipolar membrane also prevents the intended products from going back and forth between the electrodes being used. The entire system was connected to a single three-junction GaInP/GaInAs/Ge photovoltaic which drove the unassisted solar driven CO2 reduction. The triple junction solar cell essentially encouraged the reaction to use solar energy. Through the entire article, several major, and key ideas were founded. One key idea that was found through the study involves the idea that the nanowires of CuO produced a variety of products. Another major finding brought to light by the ran testing includes the idea that when SnO2 is present, it decreased the strength of binding of hydrogen atoms the surface of the catalyst. CritiqueFor the most part, the article was extremely well written, but it still possessed a few flaws that could be approved upon. To start, the title was very elongated, and could have been more concise. Although it did outline the essay’s main idea, I feel that it provided too much information, for example, a more concise title could have been “Transforming CO2 Into CO With The Use of Only Sunlight. ” The introduction was very clear when it came to giving background information for the information that would later play a role in the rest of article, but it still could have been improved as well. One way the introduction could have been improved on is by at least touching on the experimental procedures they would later take on, such as the gas adsorption testing, as well as their tests for catalytic activity. The abstract also did a good job with essentially outlining the focal point of the article, but again, I feel like it would be improved if they were to at least touch on the tests they ran to gain results.

Next, the way the graphs the article implemented are in a way, slightly confusing. Implementing multiple graphs with only one figure that explains them may be quite overwhelming to some, therefore, maybe adding a figure under each graph can provide a more organized way of presenting each of the graphs. Some sections of the article are also unnecessary, and some seem to need an expansion. For example, the section titled “Structural change following electrochemical testing” seems to provide important information, but I feel that it does not really contribute to the conclusion of the article, therefore becoming essentially unnecessary. As opposed to the section titled “Mechanistic investigation” which is I feel is lacking information. I believe that this section could be improved with an expansion by going into more depth on the steps they undertook to test for gas adsorption.

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