Catalyst design for water oxidation

Catalyst design for water oxidation

The overall process of water splitting includes two half reactions, water reduction and water oxidation, generating H2 and O2 respectively. Of these, the latter is exceptionally challenging: it is endothermic, requires high (1.23V) potential, four electrons must be transferred to an electron acceptor per one molecule of generated oxygen, and the electron transfer must be carefully orchestrated. Robust water oxidation catalysts are required to produce oxygen efficiently, that is, with high rates using only a small overpotential.
Catalyst stability is another key issue to solve in the quest towards a viable and relevant catalyst that can be used for large scale energy production from light and water.
These observations prompted us to focus on the development of well-defined, stable molecular catalysts that are supported on reusable surfaces for oxidation of water and organic compounds.
There are several potential advantages in confining a molecular catalyst to a surface to form a heterogeneous system, including facile product purification and catalyst reusability. Beginning with a molecular catalyst, we will gain considerable insight into mechanisms of action and deactivation. A significant advantage of catalyst immobilization is the ability to control and tune the catalyst concentration on the surface. For example, the packing density of the immobilized catalyst can be engineered to be very low if unimolecular substrate activation mechanisms are preferred; or very high if bimetallic mechanisms are more desirable. Furthermore, alternative mechanism(s) of substrate activation could be operational when employing immobilized catalysts. Anchoring of transition metal complexes onto surfaces is a powerful method for the controlled preparation of materials that are otherwise inaccessible by conventional techniques.

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We are looking for creative and talented students to join us. Research students will be exposed to diverse and interdisciplinary research activities and will gain a theoretical and practical education in various areas, such as organic and organometallic chemistry, materials and surface science.


Dr. Olena Zenkina University of Ontario Institute of Technology 2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4 Science Building, Room 2020

phone: 905.721.8668 ext. 3644