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New insights in artificial photosynthesis using Organic/Inorganic Hybrid materials

The development of sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies for chemicals and energy supply is one of the most important challenges for our society today. Such technologies must address the mitigation of greenhouse gases emissions, and in this sense, it is highly desirable to incorporate the abundant and renewable solar energy as the main source to power our future society. The design of materials suitable for solar energy conversion technologies should also address environmental and sustainability issues. For this reason, functional polymers have been considered as solar energy materials owing to their versatility and large availability, which is not constrained by geopolitics. Conjugated Porous Polymer (CPP) semiconductors are particularly attractive because these materials have been shown to possess high photochemical stability and tuneable intrinsic optoelectronic properties (light absorption and photochemical activity).

The Photoactivated Processes Unit of IMDEA Energy Institute is working on the development of CPPs with enhanced photocatalytic properties, and recently published their latest results in ACS Catalysis*. In this report, the team explains the design basis and the synthesis of a series of new CPP photocatalysts named IMDEA Energy Polymer-x (IEP-x)x = 7, 8, 9, and 10, for the hydrogen production from water splitting. These polymers possess better photocalytic properties than that of TiO2, owing to an extended visible light absorption, which is the highest component of solar irradiance. Moreover, a strong photocatalytic synergy was found when combining IEP-x with TiO2 to form an organic/inorganic hybrid composite. Such synergic effect was strongest for the IEP-7/TiO2 hybrid composite, with a hydrogen production rate 12-fold higher than the sum of its individual bare materials. Based on a comprehensive time-resolved spectroscopy study, the research team explained that the observed synergy originates from an effective separation of the photo-generated species across the organic/inorganic interface. This study will surely provide a platform for further developments of novel hybrid materials for renewable energy conversion.

(*) C. G. López-Calixto, M. Barawi, M. Gomez-Mendoza, F. E. Oropeza, F. Fresno, M. Liras, and V. A. de la Peña O'Shea. “Hybrids Based on BOPHY-Conjugated Porous Polymers as Photocatalysts for Hydrogen Production: Insight into the Charge Transfer Pathway” ACS Catalysis 2020, 10, 17, 9804–9812 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acscatal.0c01346 

More information: Marta Liras, Senior Assistant Researcher, Photoactivated Processes Unit, marta.liras@imdea.org

Event Date: 
Friday, September 25, 2020