Photocatalysis for solar fuels

Research statement

Due to the ongoing global warming and the upcoming energy crises, the exploitation of alternative, renewable energy sources has become a major focus of materials chemistry. The ultimate solution for sustainable energy lies in the concept of solar fuels – commodity chemicals that can be generated from nothing but sunlight and abundant feedstock through heterogeneous photocatalysis. The reactions of water splitting and carbon dioxide photoreduction, however, involve complex multi-electron redox processes that require a rational design of the surface catalytic sites. When working with ill-defined inorganic surfaces, these sites are inevitably hard to study and understand on a truly fundamental level, which limits the rational synthesis of active and selective photocatalysts.

 

To tackle this challenge, we propose to merge the heterogeneous and homogeneous branches of photocatalysis and combine the excellent stability and optoelectronic properties of the solid-state supports with the structural and functional tunability of the molecular catalytic species, thus creating a new class of well-defined (i.e. controllable) multi-functional hybrid photocatalysts.

 

On the way to this aim, several research projects are currnelty under development: