Electrocatalytic and photoelectrosynthetic hydrogen production using metalloporphyrins and molecular-modified gallium phosphide photocathodes
Metalloporphyrins represent a class of molecular electrocatalysts for driving energy relevant half-reactions, including hydrogen evolution and carbon dioxide reduction. As electrocatalysts, they provide a strategy, and potential structural component, for linking renewable energy sources with the production of fuels and other value-added chemicals. In this work, porphyrins are used as structural motifs for exploring structure-function relationships in electrocatalysis and as molecular building blocks for assembling photoelectrochemical assemblies leveraging the light capture and conversion properties of a gallium phosphide (GaP) semiconductor. These concepts are further covered in Chapter 1. A direct one-step method to chemically graft metalloporphyrins to GaP surfaces is described in Chapter 2. Structural characterization of the hybrid assemblies is achieved using surface-sensitive spectroscopic methods, and functional performance for photoinduced hydrogen production is demonstrated via three-electrode electrochemical measurement combined with product analysis using gas chromatography. In Chapter 3, preparation of a novel cobalt porphyrin modified with 3-fluorophenyl groups at all four meso-positions of the porphyrin ring and a single 4-vinylphenyl surface attachment group at one of the β-positions is described. Electrochemical measurements show the 3-fluorophenyl groups perturb the reduction potentials of the complex to more positive values as compared to non-fluorinated analogs, illustrating synthetic control over the redox properties of the catalysts. The use of grazing angle attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to characterize chemically modified GaP surfaces containing grafted cobalt fluoro-porphyrins is presented in Chapter 4. In these hybrid constructs, porphyrin surface attachment is achieved using either a two-step method involving coordination of cobalt fluoro-porphyrin metal centers to nitrogen sites on an initially applied thin-film polypyridyl surface coating, or via a direct modification strategy using a cobalt fluoro-porphyrin precursor bearing a covalently bonded 4- vinylphenyl surface attachment group. Finally, Chapter 5 describes binuclear copper porphyrins in which two copper porphyrin macrocycles are doubly fused at the meso-β positions are shown to be active electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction. The enhancement in catalytic performance over analogous non-fused copper porphyrins indicates extended macrocycles provide an advantageous structural motif and design element for preparing electrocatalysts that activate small molecules of consequence to renewable energy.