Classical polymer photocatalysts: a versatile material class


Classical polymer photocatalysts: a versatile material class

Wed, 27/10/2021 - 16:00 to 17:00


Dr Calum Ferguson
Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Increasingly, the utilization of solar energy has been targeted as a cleaner more environmentally friendly alternative to thermal energy. The emergence of photocatalytic materials has facilitated this shift. Typically, either homogenous small molecule photocatalysts or bulky heterogeneous photocatalytic materials are utilised. Small molecular photocatalysts are highly efficient but are poorly recyclable and reusable. Heterogeneous photocatalysts are readily recoverable and reusable, but are significantly less effective than homogenous analogues. Moreover, current photocatalytic materials cannot easily be functionalised and have limited reagent selectivity.

Recently we have reported a new class of polymer photocatalysts formed by combining small molecular photocatalysts with classical polymer chemistry. Creating photocatalytic polymers that contain the beneficial properties from both components. Small molecule photocatalysts will be modified to contain vinyl functionality, allowing copolymerisation with classical monomers, creating a photocatalytic polymer. Here, the material can be designed so that the active photocatalytic unit is fully solvated, ensuring high photocatalytic efficiency, similar to homogenous catalysts. While, the classical polymer support creates an easily recoverable material, analogous to heterogeneous photocatalysts.

This synergistic combination also enables the production of photocatalytic polymers that can be designed for specialised applications. In our group we are interested in using this new hybrid material to produce selective photocatalytic materials. Here, we use the tuneable nature of photocatalytic classical polymers to produce materials that can selectively catalyse targeted reactions. Using a bioinspired strategy we design the local environment of the photocatalytic moiety, controlling hydrophobicity, molecular recognition and geometry of the photocatalytic active portion.


If you are not from ICS and would like to join this seminar please contact Graeme Barker directly at to join this talk.