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Gaining Deeper Insights into Controlling Selectivity in Plasmonic Catalysis

New insights have been provided by researchers at the University of Helsinki into control over reaction selectivity along with visible light in plasmonic catalysis.

Controlling Selectivity in Plasmonic Catalysis

Professor Pedro Camargo's research interests include the synthesis of nanomaterials for nanocatalysis and plasmonic nanocatalysis. Image Credit: Veikko Somerpuro

In this breakthrough, it was discovered that by fabricating the composition in nanoparticles consisting of Pd and Ag, visible light irradiation could be applied as a viable energy input not just to expedite molecular transformations but also to allow control over reaction selectivity.

For instance, by applying the hydrogenation of phenylacetylene as a model transformation, researchers establish that visible light irradiation could be employed to guide the reaction pathway from hydrogenation to homocoupling. This helps change the nature of the products that are produced with and without visible light illumination.

The study outcomes have been reported in the science journal Angewandte Chemie.

This is an exciting discovery. The control over reaction selectivity with visible-light through plasmonic catalysis can pave the way for more sustainable and efficient chemical processes.

Pedro Camargo, Study Lead Author and Professor, University of Helsinki

The use of visible light to expedite chemical reactions through plasmonic catalysis provides special chances to obtain much milder reaction conditions compared to reactions that have been traditionally performed under high pressure and external heating, for example.

Reaction Selectivity in Nanocatalysis Remains Challenging

To improve chemical reactions, plasmonic catalysis includes utilizing the collective oscillations of electrons in metal nanoparticles. This method has been extensively studied as a result of its ability to decrease the amount of energy needed to increase reaction rates and drive chemical reactions.

Catalysis plays a vital role in society. It implies the expedition of molecular transformations in the existence of a catalyst, thereby allowing quicker chemical reactions, but it is not used up in the reaction itself.

The use of nanoparticles as catalysts (also called nanocatalysis) has an effect on the production of an extensive range of products, ranging from fuels to chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In this context, a more efficient catalytic process could not only reduce environmental effects but also increase access to necessary products for people throughout the world

In nanocatalysis, regulating reaction selectivity is vital because a reaction could generate several products. A few of these might be undesirable or have less value. If it is possible to control reaction selectivity, the formation of a preferred product could be enabled, thereby making processes highly efficient and affordable while preventing extra steps of purification and reducing the generation of waste.

Hence, control over selectivity helps save resources, time, and energy. In spite of its highly attractive features, the control over reaction selectivity in nanocatalysis is still a difficulty.

This study has been financially supported by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the University of Helsinki, and the Academy of Finland.

Journal Reference:

Peiris, E., et al. (2022) Controlling Selectivity in Plasmonic Catalysis: Switching Reaction Pathway from Hydrogenation to Homocoupling Under Visible-Light Irradiation. Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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