Institute of Materials Chemistry
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Sub-group leader:

Dr. Alexey Cherevan


 

Address:
Getreidemarkt 9/BC/02/A18
1060 Wien
Austria

Tel.: +43/1/58801-165230
Fax: +43/1/58801-165981

e-mail: alexey.cherevan@tuwien.ac.at

 

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Heterogeneous photocatalysis

Research challenge

Photocatalysis is a promising research field with a number of real world applications. While oxidative photocatalysis (water and air purification, self-cleaning and anti-bacterial surfaces) is already commercialized, the use of reductive photocatalysis such as in overall photocatalytic water splitting and in carbon dioxide photoreduction is yet to be exploited.

Metal oxide photocatalysts TiO2, WO3, Fe2O3, Ta2O5 and Nb2O5 represent the most common materials for a variety of photocatalytic applications due to their exceptional stability under reaction conditions, low toxicity, inexpensive fabrication and processing techniques.

However, the major drawbacks of such bulky oxides are their inability to absorb visible light (due to intrinsically wide band gaps) and poor catalytic performance towards multi-electron redox processes. Despite numerous approaches trying to tackle these challenges have been proposed (such as doping, photosensitization and construction of heterojunctions), none of them has actually revolutionized the field.

Our approach

To address the challenges of heterogeneous photocatalysis, we take the inspiration from nature and the field of artificial photosynthesis to combine stability and availability of solid-state oxide photocatalysts with high selectivity and flexibility of molecular-sized artificial homogeneous systems.

Our way to bridge these fields is to endow standard crystalline oxide photocatalyst with the features of redox enzymatic catalysts that we realize by

  • Downsizing oxides to molecular level
  • Immobilizing molecular catalysts on various matrices 
  • Controlled surface-modification

These strategies have the potential to tackle both light absorption and catalytic tasks of photocatalysis and open up new possibilities for a wide range of applications.