Nat Commun. 2022 Aug 6;13(1):4602. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32443-5.
Designing efficient catalysts and understanding the underlying mechanisms for anodic nucleophile electrooxidation are central to the advancement of electrochemically-driven technologies. Here, a heterostructure of nickel boride/nickel catalyst is developed to enable methanol electrooxidation into formate with a Faradaic efficiency of nearly 100%. Operando electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and in situ Raman spectroscopy are applied to understand the influence of methanol concentration in the methanol oxidation reaction. High concentrations of methanol inhibit the phase transition of the electrocatalyst to high-valent electro-oxidation products, and electrophilic oxygen species (O* or OH*) formed on the electrocatalyst are considered to be the catalytically active species. Additional mechanistic investigation with density functional theory calculations reveals that the potential-determining step, the formation of *CH2O, occurs most favorably on the nickel boride/nickel heterostructure rather than on nickel boride and nickel. These results are highly instructive for the study of other nucleophile-based approaches to electrooxidation reactions and organic electrosynthesis.