Catalysts that include at least one catalytically active element and one helper catalyst can be used to increase the rate or lower the overpotential of chemical reactions. The helper catalyst can simultaneously act as a director molecule, suppressing undesired reactions and thus increasing selectivity toward the desired reaction. These catalysts can be useful for a variety of chemical reactions including, in particular, the electrochemical conversion of CO.sub.2 or formic acid. The catalysts can also suppress H.sub.2 evolution, permitting electrochemical cell operation at potentials below RHE. Chemical processes and devices using the catalysts are also disclosed, including processes to produce CO, OH.sup.-, HCO.sup.-, H.sub.2CO, (HCO.sub.2).sup.-, H.sub.2CO.sub.2, CH.sub.3OH, CH.sub.4, C.sub.2H.sub.4, CH.sub.3CH.sub.2OH, CH.sub.3COO.sup.-, CH.sub.3COOH, C.sub.2H.sub.6, O.sub.2, H.sub.2, (COOH).sub.2, or (COO.sup.-).sub.2, and a specific device, namely, a CO.sub.2 sensor.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
 This invention was made, at least in part, with U.S. government support under Department of Energy Grant DE-SC0004453. The U.S. government has certain rights in the invention.