Interpreting the Electrocatalytic Voltammetry of Homogeneous Catalysts by the Foot of the Wave Analysis and Its Wider Implications



Mechanistic studies of electrocatalytic reactions play a crucial role in developing efficient electrocatalysts and solar-fuel devices. The foot of the wave analysis (FOWA) for cyclic voltammetry, recently developed by Savéant and Costentin, provides a powerful means to evaluate the performance of molecular electrocatalysts. However, there is a considerable amount of confusion in the community on how to interpret FOWA in multi-electron electrochemical reactions. Herein, we further expand their earlier models from the Nernstian region to all scenarios (i.e. including non-Nernstian behavior) and systematically examine individual parameters, such as formal potentials and reaction rate constants, to explore deeper insights and limitation. Detailed analysis from in-silico voltammograms based on different mechanistic models reveals characteristic features of FOWA traces for different kinetic phenomena, which is useful to diagnose kinetic profiles and elucidate the limits of FOWA. The lessons learned from these analyses are further used to reconcile the discrepancy of rate constants determined by FOWA versus other methods, such as time-resolved spectroscopy, for molecular electrocatalysts that catalyze proton reduction or the reduction of CO2 to CO. Such reconciliation demonstrates that electrochemical methods along with FOWA can serve as an alternative tool to determine kinetic information and probe mechanistic insights, which otherwise may be challenging and complicated to be achieved by conventional methods. In addition, general guidelines and warnings are also presented to avoid potential errors or mishandling when using FOWA.


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Supplementary material

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Wang and Johnson FINAL supporting materials I
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Wang and Johnson support II math