LIGHT-DRIVEN ORGANOCATALYSIS

    Our group investigates photoorganocatalytic processes, with the aim of using the Sun's energy to produce chemicals and fuels needed for the chemical industry and energy production.

    Our research is at the interface between organic and physical chemistry and we accordingly use techniques common to both of these fields: (i) syntheses of model compounds; (i) electrochemical studies of water oxidation using cyclic voltammetry, bulk electrolysis and spectroelectrochemistry; (iii) time-resolved femtosecond pump-probe studies of photohydroxides and photohydrides (our instrument has the capacity to probe in both the visible and mid-IR range; (iv) simple DFT calculations to study thermodynamics of reactions of interest and to investigate the excited-state character of model compounds.

    In specific, three photoorganocatalytic processes are studied in our labs:


Electrocatalytic water oxidation

The organocatalytic motifs that can oxidize water to molecular oxygen are investigated, with the aim of finding earth-abundant analogs of currently known transition metal based catalysts. The potential application of these catalysts is in the field of Solar splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen.


Photobases

This project involves a study of molecular frameworks that release hydroxide ions in their excited-state. These photobases can then be utilized to generate light-triggered pH gradients or to drive base-catalyzed reactions using the energy from Sun.


Photohydrides

This project involves a study of compounds that release hydride ions in the excited state. To efficiently utilize the invested energy of the photon, the model compounds that exhibit concerted hydride ion release (vs. the unwanted stepwise electron-hydrogen atom transfer processes) are sought for. The photohydrides are promising catalysts for the generation of fuels (i.e reduction of protons to hydrogen) and reduction of industrially relevant compounds.