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From molecules to materials: new catalysts for artificial photosynthesis

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Molecular hydrogen is the ultimate clean fuel due to its extremely high energy density and its clean combustion to water. However, the challenge lies to produce it sustainably from water, which requires catalysts to lower the kinetic energy barrier. Molecular catalysts based on non-precious metals fascinates synthetic chemists the most due to their tunability which allows us to tailor the structure and control their properties. However, molecular catalysts are somewhat disadvantaged by practical consideration because they often function in homogeneous solution and display limited long-term stability. Having an effective scaffold to mount the catalyst on, representing ‘heterogenisation’ of the molecule, is a key part of building a practical system that brings together the benefits of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. Metal-organic framework, a type of crystalline material composed of metal clusters connected by organic linkers, offers a step further by allowing us to build tunable three-dimensional architecture by using molecules as the building blocks. In this talk, I will explore how the metal-organic framework enables us to transfer the chemistry of molecular catalysts into a solid material while still enjoying the benefits of heterogenous catalysis.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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