Direct selective transformation of greenhouse methane (CH4) to liquid oxygenates (methanol) can substitute energy-intensive two-step (reforming/Fischer–Tropsch) synthesis while creating environmental benefits. The development of inexpensive, selective, and robust catalysts that enable room temperature conversion will decide the future of this technology. Single-atom catalysts (SACs) with isolated active centers embedded in support have displayed significant promises in catalysis to drive challenging reactions. Herein, high-density Ni single atoms are developed and stabilized on carbon nitride (NiCN) via thermal condensation of preorganized Ni-coordinated melem units. The physicochemical characterization of NiCN with various analytical techniques including HAADF-STEM and X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) validate the successful formation of Ni single atoms coordinated to the heptazine-constituted CN network. The presence of uniform catalytic sites improved visible absorption and carrier separation in densely populated NiCN SAC resulting in 100% selective photoconversion of (CH4) to methanol using H2O2 as an oxidant. The superior catalytic activity can be attributed to the generation of high oxidation (NiIII═O) sites and selective C─H bond cleavage to generate •CH3 radicals on Ni centers, which can combine with •OH radicals to generate CH3OH.
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© 2023 The Authors. Small published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.
- Ni single atom catalysts
- carbon nitride
- heterogeneous catalysts
- methane oxidation