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  1. Van der Waals heterojunctions of two-dimensional transition-metal dichalcogenides are intensely investigated for multiple optoelectronics applications. Strong and adjustable interactions between layers can influence the charge and energy flow that govern material performance. We report ab initio quantum molecular dynamics investigation of the influence of the bilayer twist angle on charge transfer and recombination in MoS 2 /WS 2 heterojunctions, including high-symmetry 0° and 60° configurations, and low symmetry 9.43° and 50.57° structures with Moiré patterns. The twist angle modulates interlayer coupling, as evidenced by changes in the interlayer distance, electron-vibrational interactions, and spectral shifts in the out-of-plane vibrational frequencies. Occurring on a femtosecond timescale, the hole transfer depends weakly on the twist angle and is ultrafast due to high density of acceptor states and large nonadiabatic coupling. In contrast, the electron–hole recombination takes nanoseconds and varies by an order of magnitude depending on the twist angle. The recombination is slow because it occurs across a large energy gap. It depends on the twist angle because the nonadiabatic coupling is sensitive to the interlayer distance and overlap of electron and hole wavefunctions. The Moiré pattern systems exhibit weaker interlayer interaction, generating longer-lived charges. Both charge separation and recombination are driven by out-of-plane vibrational motions. The simulations rationalize the experimental results on the influence of the bilayer twist angle on the charge separation and recombination. The atomistic insights provide theoretical guidance for design of high-performance optoelectronic devices based on 2D van der Waals heterostructures. 
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  2. Abstract

    Direct conversion of CO2into carbon‐neutral fuels or industrial chemicals holds a great promise for renewable energy storage and mitigation of greenhouse gas emission. However, experimentally finding an electrocatalyst for specific final products with high efficiency and high selectivity poses serious challenges due to multiple electron transfer, complicated intermediates, and numerous reaction pathways in electrocatalytic CO2reduction. Here, an intrinsic descriptor that correlates the catalytic activity with the topological, bonding, and electronic structures of catalytic centers on M–N–C based single‐atom catalysts is discovered. The “volcano”‐shaped relationships between the descriptor and catalytic activity are established from which the best single‐atom catalysts for CO2reduction are found. Moreover, the reaction mechanisms, intermediates, reaction pathways, and final products can also be distinguished by this new descriptor. The descriptor can also be used to predict the activity of the single‐atom catalysts for electrochemical reactions such as hydrogen evolution, oxygen reduction and evolution reactions in fuel cells and water‐splitting. These predictions are confirmed by the experimental results for onset potential and Faraday efficiency. The design principles derived from the descriptors open a door for rational design and rapid screening of highly efficient electrocatalysts for CO2conversion as well as other electrochemical energy systems.

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  3. Abstract

    Carbon nanomaterials are promising metal‐free catalysts for energy conversion and storage, but the catalysts are usually developed via traditional trial‐and‐error methods. To rationally design and accelerate the search for the highly efficient catalysts, it is necessary to establish design principles for the carbon‐based catalysts. Here, theoretical analysis and material design of metal‐free carbon nanomaterials as efficient photo‐/electrocatalysts to facilitate the critical chemical reactions in clean and sustainable energy technologies are reviewed. These reactions include the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells, the oxygen evolution reaction in metal–air batteries, the iodine reduction reaction in dye‐sensitized solar cells, the hydrogen evolution reaction in water splitting, and the carbon dioxide reduction in artificial photosynthesis. Basic catalytic principles, computationally guided design approaches and intrinsic descriptors, catalytic material design strategies, and future directions are discussed for the rational design and synthesis of highly efficient carbon‐based catalysts for clean energy technologies.

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