Research in artificial photosynthesis seeks to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis that converts water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen using sunlight as the energy source. The visible-light driven splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen and the production of methanol from CO2 reduction are sometimes included in the definition. There are two distinct approaches to artificial photosynthesis: structural models vs. functional models of the natural systems. We are pursuing functional models as exemplified in recent work on hydrogenase-inspired catalysts for H2 production. The function of the chlorophyll arrays in plants might be replaced with a suitable band-gap-narrowed semiconductor photoanode in an electrochemical cell with an attached molecular multi-electron water oxidation catalyst. The role of the NADH co-factor as the carrier and donor of two electrons and a proton might be replaced by a photogenerated hydride donor to carry out the function of Photosystem I. Here we briefly review the catalytic production of oxygen, hydrogen and methanol from water and carbon dioxide using transition-metal complexes as catalysts, and we describe progress in our recent work and that of others.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)