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Photo-ElectroCatalysis: New activation paradigm

Project description

Light and electricity: A promising union

Development of new, sustainable, chemical processes would be impossible without catalysis. Catalysts speed up reactions without being consumed during the process by reducing the energy barrier for the reaction to proceed. This way the reactions can be done at lower temperatures, and generally milder conditions. Light and electricity are two "tunable" forms of energy that can lead to activation of molecules by single electron transfer. Photocatalysis and electrocatalysis have been instrumental in applications ranging from organic synthesis and sensing to fuel cells and batteries, but they have rarely been used together so far. The EU-funded PECaN project will build on a computational model to design photo-electro catalytic systems useful for activation of particularly challenging substrates. This will allow the rational design of catalytic systems that use light and electricity, two renewable sources of energy, to access a wealth of industrially important reactions.


Due to a high sustainability and to a straightforward tunability of the energy input (wavelength, redox potential), the use of light and electricity for the activation of organic molecules constitutes an attractive method in the toolkit of the organic chemist. Consequently, photochemistry and electrochemistry are both undergoing a renaissance in the recent decade, mainly in the form of photo- and electro- catalysis. Both of these activation modes share many traits, as they proceed via single electron transfer mechanisms. It is obvious that a method which would combine both photo- and electro- catalysis can take advantage from these similarities, while alleviating the problems encountered with application of photo- or electro- catalysis alone. Yet, combination of these two activation modes was seldom achieved so far.
The objective of this action is to develop a catalytic system, which combines photochemical and electrochemical steps in order to achieve the required reduction potential for the activation of challenging substrates. The work will be initiated with a computational benchmarking study aimed at to identify the best available method for the theoretical prediction of redox potentials. This will allow for a rational design of catalytic systems, and eventually the tailoring of a set of new catalysts to specific photo-electro catalytic transformations. To achieve optimal reaction conditions, different cell designs will be tested for a photo-electrochemical test reaction. Finally, the optimized cell and the new catalysts will be applied in radical cyclizations of demanding substrates.
The HI is able to provide both equipment as well as know-how in a broad variety of fields, which is imperative for such an interdisciplinary project. The project will boost the fellow’s research skills and help him to kick-start his independent research career in Slovakia.


Net EU contribution
€ 143 364,48
814 99 Bratislava

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Slovensko Bratislavský kraj Bratislavský kraj
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 143 364,48