NSF-DFG Echem: Photokatalytische organische Synthese durch hocheffiziente planare Halbleiter
Zentrum für Mikro- und Nanotechnologien
This collaborative effort by the joint team between Yale University and the Ilmenau University of Technology will explore the use of efficient semiconductive photoabsorbers to achieve organic synthesis. Semiconductors are known to convert light into charges efficiently, and photocatalysts control the charge transfer processes to drive redox reactions to form stable products. Photocatalytic organic synthesis resembles photoredox catalysis for the coevolution of reductive and oxidative reactions locally, but produces surface-bound organic molecules during coevolution. However, the relationship of the chargetransfer energetics and kinetics with surface reactivity is less known, which limits the design of synthesis pathways by using photocatalysts. To address this gap, the team investigates a model reaction of photocatalytic para-xylene oxidation to produce terephthalic acid, driven by TiO2-coated planar aluminum gallium indium phosphide semiconductors. Theory calculations will corroborate with the measured energetics and product selectivity, and elucidate the surface reaction pathways. The collaborative research thrusts include i.) the correlation between the surface chemistry and the holetransfer energetics, ii.) the coevolution to achieve product selectivity control, and iii.) the vapor-phase reactor implementation. This cross-disciplinary investigation should engage future-generation workforce in both US and Germany. The simple reactor implementation fills the gap of public outreach for chemical production, and also enriches interdisciplinary training plans under this newly initiated international outreach effort.