Photocatalytic organic synthesis by hight-efficiency planar semiconductors


Contact person

Prof. Thomas Hannappel
Group for Fundamentals of Energy Materials

Phone: +49 3677 69-2566

Funding information

Project leader:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Project number:HA 3096/19-1

Participating groups: Group for Fundamentals of Energy Materials

Period of funding: 01.11.2021 - 30.10.2026

Project information

Shu Hu
Overview of light excitation for C-H bond activation and selective oxidation of p-xylene, e.g., by using superoxide radicals based on III-V photoabsorbers.

The joint team from Yale University and Ilmenau University of Technology is exploring the use of efficient semiconducting photoabsorbers for organic synthesis. Semiconductors are known to efficiently convert light into charges, and photocatalysts control charge transfer processes to drive redox reactions to form stable products. Photocatalytic organic synthesis is similar to photoredox catalysis for on-site coevolution of reductive and oxidative reactions, but produces surface-bound organic molecules during coevolution. However, the relationship between charge transfer energetics and kinetics and surface reactivity is less well understood, limiting the design of synthetic pathways using photocatalysts. To address this gap, the team investigated a model reaction of photocatalytic para-xylene oxidation to produce terephthalic acid driven by TiO2-coated planar aluminum-gallium-indium-phosphide semiconductors. Theoretical calculations will correspond to the measured energetics and product selectivity and elucidate the reaction pathways at the surface. The joint research priorities include i.) correlation between surface chemistry and hole transfer energetics, ii.) co-evolution to achieve product selectivity, and iii.) vapor phase reactor implementation. This cross-disciplinary investigation should involve future workers in the U.S. and Germany. The simple reactor implementation fills the gap of public outreach for chemical The simple reactor implementation fills the gap of public outreach for chemical production and also enriches the interdisciplinary education curricula in this newly initiated international outreach project.