Synthesis and application of porphyrin, phthalocyanine and perylene chromophores for solar energy conversion
Photosynthesis, one of the most important processes in nature, has provided an energy basis for nearly all life on Earth, as well as the fossil fuels we use today to power modern society. This research aims to mimic the photosynthetic process of converting incident solar energy into chemical potential energy in the form of a fuel via systems capable of carrying out photo-induced electron transfer to drive the production of hydrogen from water. Herein is detailed progress in using photo-induced stepwise electron transfer to drive the oxidation of water and reduction of protons to hydrogen. In the design, use of more blue absorbing porphyrin dyes to generate high-potential intermediates for oxidizing water and more red absorbing phthalocyanine dyes for forming the low potential charge needed for the production of hydrogen have been utilized. For investigating water oxidation at the photoanode, high potential porphyrins such as, bis-pyridyl porphyrins and pentafluorophenyl porphyrins have been synthesized and experiments have aimed at the co-immobilization of this dye with an IrO2-nH2O catalyst on TiO2. To drive the cathodic reaction of the water splitting photoelectrochemical cell, utilization of silicon octabutoxy-phthalocyanines have been explored, as they offer good absorption in the red to near infrared, coupled with low potential photo-excited states. Axially and peripherally substituted phthalocyanines bearing carboxylic anchoring groups for the immobilization on semiconductors such as TiO2 has been investigated. Ultimately, this work should culminate in a photoelectrochemical cell capable of splitting water to oxygen and hydrogen with the only energy input from light. A series of perylene dyes bearing multiple semi-conducting metal oxide anchoring groups have been synthesized and studied. Results have shown interfacial electron transfer between these perylenes and TiO2 nanoparticles encapsulated within reverse micelles and naked nanoparticles. The binding process was followed by monitoring the hypsochromic shift of the dye absorption spectra over time. Photoinduced electron transfer from the singlet excited state of the perylenes to the TiO2 conduction band is indicated by emission quenching of the TiO2-bound form of the dyes and confirmed by transient absorption measurements of the radical cation of the dyes and free carriers (injected electrons) in the TiO2.