What is it about?

In this research study, the process of converting nitrogen into ammonia has been improved through the development of a specialized catalyst. This catalyst is composed of small particles characterized by oxygen gaps and a unique arrangement that facilitates the movement of electrons. As a result, it enhances the efficiency of capturing nitrogen and transforming it into ammonia. This study has received an invitation for inclusion in the 2023 PNAS Early-Career Researchers. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is dedicated to featuring outstanding original research conducted by early-career researchers (ECRs) in diverse fields, encompassing biological, physical, and social sciences, mathematics, as well as computer science.

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Why is it important?

The research findings indicate a more environmentally friendly approach to ammonia production, which holds significance in agriculture as it contributes to improved crop growth and serves as a key component in fertilizers. Additionally, the potential of ammonia can be used as a means to store hydrogen, a clean and sustainable energy source. This concept resembles an efficient method for storing energy for future use, utilizing ammonia as a carrier.


This research signifies significant progress in addressing two critical aspects of our contemporary world: agriculture and clean energy. The discovery of a more environmentally friendly method for ammonia production holds promise for improving food production while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint associated with farming. Furthermore, the exploration of ammonia as a means to store hydrogen, a clean and efficient energy source, carries significant implications for a sustainable future. This work highlights the potential of innovation to drive positive change, contributing to both immediate and long-term environmental goals.

Edison Huixiang Ang
Nanyang Technological University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Optimizing oxygen vacancies through grain boundary engineering to enhance electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2306673120.
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