Development of a versatile electrochemical cell for in situ grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction during non-aqueous electrochemical nitrogen reduction

Sarah J. Blair, Adam C. Nielander, Kevin H. Stone, Melissa E. Kreider, Valerie A. Niemann, Peter Benedek, Eric J. McShane, Alessandro Gallo, Thomas F. Jaramillo
Year of publication: 
Journal of Synchrotron Radiation

In situ techniques are essential to understanding the behavior of electrocatalysts under operating conditions. When employed, in situ synchrotron grazing- incidence X-ray diffraction (GI-XRD) can provide time-resolved structural information of materials formed at the electrode surface. In situ cells, however, often require epoxy resins to secure electrodes, do not enable electrolyte flow, or exhibit limited chemical compatibility, hindering the study of non-aqueous electrochemical systems. Here, a versatile electrochemical cell for air-free in situ synchrotron GI-XRD during non-aqueous Li-mediated electrochemical N2 reduction (Li-N2R) has been designed. This cell not only fulfills the stringent material requirements necessary to study this system but is also readily extendable to other electrochemical systems. Under conditions relevant to non- aqueous Li-N2R, the formation of Li metal, LiOH and Li2O as well as a peak consistent with the -phase of Li3N was observed, thus demonstrating the functionality of this cell toward developing a mechanistic understanding of complicated electrochemical systems.

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