Selectivity control of CO versus HCOO production in the visible-light-driven catalytic reduction of CO2 with two cooperative metal sites

Zhenguo Guo, Gui Chen, Claudio Cometto, Bing Ma, Hongyan Zhao, Thomas Groizard, Lingjing Chen, Hongbo Fan, Wai Lun MAN, Shek Man Yiu, Kai Chung Lau*, Tai Chu Lau, Marc Robert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


It is highly desirable to discover molecular catalysts with controlled selectivity for visible-light-driven CO2 reduction to fuels. In the design of catalysts employing earth-abundant metals, progress has been made for CO production, but formate generation has been observed more rarely. Here, we report a binuclear Co complex bearing a bi-quaterpyridine ligand that can selectively reduce CO2 to HCOO or CO under visible light irradiation. Selective formate production (maximum of 97%) was obtained with a turnover number of up to 821 in basic acetonitrile solution. Conversely, in the presence of a weak acid, CO2 reduction affords CO with high selectivity (maximum of 99%) and a maximum turnover number of 829. The catalytic process is controlled by the two Co atoms acting synergistically, and the selectivity can be steered towards the desired product by simply changing the acid co-substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-808
Number of pages8
JournalNature Catalysis
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Catalysis
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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