Y. Chris Li


Y. Chris Li.

Y. Chris Li


Y. Chris Li


Research Interests

Electrochemistry, electrocatalysis, activation of hydrocarbon molecules, surface mediated reactions, in situ spectroscopies for mechanistic investigations


  • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Toronto, 2018 - 2020
  • PhD, Pennsylvania State University, 2013 – 2018
  • BS, University of California, Davis, 2006 - 2010


  • Electrochemistry and electroanalysis
  • Heterogeneous catalysis for electrosynthesis
  • Surface chemistry of inorganic material interface
  • In situ spectroscopies

Research Summary


Electrochemical reaction is a powerful tool to manipulate the flow of electron, activate chemical reactions, control reaction intermediates and steer the reaction selectivity. We are working to identify electrochemically active site with computational modelling and design catalysts with inorganic, hybrid metal/metal oxide, or metal/organic material to achieve selective chemical transformations. Our targets are to utilize small molecule as building materials, such as CO2, H2O, N2, methane or sugar, to explore new reactions in electro- inorganic and organic synthesis.

The goal of this research program is to understand how chemical bonds are formed or broken and how to control them selectively in an electrochemical process. These efforts will lead us to new chemical processes with lowered carbon footprint and environmental impacts.

Electroanalytical Tools and Methods

There are many forces at play during an electrochemical reaction – surface binding, solvation, H bonding, van der Waals, electrostatic and more. We are interested in how these chemical interactions affect the chemical outcome of a reaction. To this end, we employ a combination of electroanalytical and spectroscopic techniques to monitor the concentration, orientation and time evolution of surface species during a reaction. Statistical and machine learning approach are also used to analyze the electrochemical and spectroscopic data to enhance our understanding of the electrode-electrolyte interface. The goal of this research program is to develop new tools and methods to study the reaction kinetic and mechanism of energy related catalytic processes.

Selected Recent Publications

  1. De Arquer, F. P. G.; Dinh, C. T.; Ozden, A.; Wicks, J.; McCallum, C.; Gabardo, C.; Seifitokaldani, A.; Kirmani, A. R.; Li, Y. C.; Li, F.; Edwards, J,; Richter, L. J.; Thorpe, S. J.; Sinton, S. and Sargent, E. H., CO2 Electrolysis to Multicarbon Products at Activities Greater than 1 A/cm-2Science 2020, 367 (6478), 661-666.
  2. Li, Y. C.; Lee, G.; Yuan, T.; Wang, Y.; Nam, D. H.; Wang, Z.; de Arquer, F. P. G.; Lum, Y.; Dinh, C. T.; Voznyy, O. and Sargent, E. H., CO2 Electroreduction from Carbonate Electrolyte. ACS Energy Lett. 2019, 4 (6), 1427-1431.
  3. Luo, M. †; Wang, Z. †; Li, Y. C.†; Li, J.; Li, F.; Lum, Y.; Nam, D. H.; Chen, B.; Wicks, J.; Xu, A.; Zhuang, T.; Leow, W. R.; Wang, X.; Dinh, C. T.; Wang, Y.; Wang, Y.; Sinton, D. and Sargent E. H. Hydroxide Promotes Carbon Dioxide Electroreduction to Ethanol on Copper via Tuning of Adsorbed Hydrogen. Nature Comm. 2019, 10, 5814. (†equal contribution)
  4. Li, Y. C.; Wang, Z.; Yuan, T.; Nam, D.-H.; Luo, M.; Wicks, J.; Chen, B.; Li, J.; Li, F.; de Arquer, F. P. G.; Wang, Y.; Dinh, C.-T.; Voznyy, O.; Sinton, D.; Sargent, E. H. Binding Site Diversity Promotes CO2 Electroreduction to Ethanol. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141 (21), 8584-8591.
  5. Li, F. †; Li, Y. C.†; Wang, Z.; Li, J.; Nam, D. H.; Lum, Y.; Luo, M.; Wang, X.; Xu, Y.; Li, Y.; Chen, B.; Wicks, J.; Ozden, A.; Gabardo, C.; Dinh, C. T.; Wang, Y.; Wang, Y.; Zhuang, T.; Sinton D. and Sargent E. H., Cooperative CO2-to-ethanol Conversion via Enriched Intermediates at Molecule:metal Catalyst Interfaces. Nature Catal. 2019, 3, 75-82. (†equal contribution)
  6. Li, Y.C.; Melenbrink, E. L.; Cordonier, G. J.; Boggs, C.; Khan, A.; Isaac, M. K.; Nkhonjera, L. K.; Bahati, D.; Billinge, S. J.; Haile, S. M.; Kreuter, R. A.; Crable, R. M. and Mallouk, T.E., An Easily Fabricated Low-Cost Potentiostat Coupled with User-Friendly Software for Introducing Students to Electrochemical Reactions and Electroanalytical Techniques. J. Chem. Ed. 2018, 95 (9), 1658-1661.
  7. Li, Y. C.; Yan, Z; Hitt, J.; Wycisk, R.; Pintauro, P. N. and Mallouk, T. E., Bipolar Membranes Inhibit Product Crossover in CO2 Electrolysis Cells. Adv. Sustainable Syst. 2018, 0, 1700187.
  8. Li, Y. C.; Zhou, D.; Yan, Z.; Gonçalves, R. H.; Salvatore, D. A.; Berlinguette, C. P. and Mallouk, T. E., Electrolysis of CO2 to Syngas in Bipolar Membrane-Based Electrochemical Cells. ACS Energy Lett. 2016, 1, 1149.