Espinós, J.P., Rico, V.J., González-Cobos, J., Sánchez-Valencia, J.R., Pérez-Dieste, V., Escudero, C., De Lucas-Consuegra, A., González-Elipe, A.R.
ACS Catalysis, 9 (2019) 11447-11454
In this work, we show that multilayer graphene forms by methanol decomposition at 280 °C on an electrochemically promoted nickel catalyst film supported on a K-βAl2O3 solid electrolyte. In operando near ambient pressure photoemission spectroscopy and electrochemical measurements have shown that polarizing negatively the Ni electrode induces the electrochemical reduction and migration of potassium to the nickel surface. This elemental potassium promotes the catalytic decomposition of methanol into graphene and also stabilizes the graphene formed via diffusion and direct K-C interaction. Experiments reveal that adsorbed methoxy radicals are intermediate species in this process and that, once formed, multilayer graphene remains stable after electrochemical oxidation and back migration of potassium to the solid electrolyte upon positive polarization. The reversible diffusion of ca. 100 equivalent monolayers of potassium through the carbon layers and the unprecedented low-temperature formation of graphene and other carbon forms are mechanistic pathways of high potential impact for applications where mild synthesis and operation conditions are required.