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  1. Abstract

    Photocatalytic nitrogen fixation has the potential to provide a greener route for producing nitrogen‐based fertilizers under ambient conditions. Computational screening is a promising route to discover new materials for the nitrogen fixation process, but requires identifying “descriptors” that can be efficiently computed. In this work, we argue that selectivity toward the adsorption of molecular nitrogen and oxygen can act as a key descriptor. A catalyst that can selectively adsorb nitrogen and resist poisoning of oxygen and other molecules present in air has the potential to facilitate the nitrogen fixation process under ambient conditions. We provide a framework for active site screening based on multifidelity density functional theory (DFT) calculations for a range of metal oxides, oxyborides, and oxyphosphides. The screening methodology consists of initial low‐fidelity fixed geometry calculations and a second screening in which more expensive geometry optimizations were performed. The approach identifies promising active sites on several TiO2polymorph surfaces and a VBO4surface, and the full nitrogen reduction pathway is studied with the BEEF‐vdW and HSE06 functionals on two active sites. The findings suggest that metastable TiO2polymorphs may play a role in photocatalytic nitrogen fixation, and that VBO4may be an interesting material for further studies.

     
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