Photochemical water-splitting with transition metal complexes

The objective of this particular project is the synthesis and characterisation of novel bimetallic photocatalysts which are able to produce hydrogen gas from water using sunlight. Currently, hydrogen is made through steam reforming, which produces carbon dioxide as a side-product, or by electrolysis, which uses more energy to produce hydrogen than you get from its use in fuel cells. Our goal is to use sunlight as the main energy source for the production of hydrogen for use in fuel cells.
The organic synthesis of novel heterocyclic ligands will allow us to bind them to various transition metals that introduce photochemical properties into the final complexes. The organic ligand will be synthesized using carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond forming reactions such as the Suzuki, Stille and Buchwald coupling reactions. The choice of metal ion will be dictated by the energy of light that we wish the complex to absorb. The use of Re(I) will lead to high energy light absorbers, whereas Ru(II) will lead to lower energy light absorbers. The ligands and their metal complexes will be studied using a wide variety of techniques available in our laboratory and the chemistry department, including 1H and 13C NMR, electrochemistry, UV-visible and emission spectroscopies, and X-ray crystallography.
The Re and Ru complexes will then be used as photosensitizers for the catalytic reduction of water to hydrogen gas in conjunction with Co and Pt-based catalysts. By varying the type of photosensitizer and catalyst, we will be able to optimize the photochemical reaction. This part of the project will entail careful analysis of H2 production using gas chromatography.

Faculty Supervisor:

Garry Hanan










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