A Photo Reactor

ERC Advanced Grant



The project is built on the core idea to use an ensemble of multiple level self-organization processes to create a next generation photocatalytic platform to drastically enhance efficiency and selectivity of photocatalytic reactions, and enable a high number of organic synthetic reactions to be carried out economically (and ecologically) via combined catalytic/photocatalytic pathways.

Catalyst/photocatalyst assemblies, combined with nanoscale precision, are being investigated to provide a massive step ahead in photocatalytic applications such as direct solar hydrogen generation, pollution degradation (incl. CO2 decomposition), N2 fixation, or photocatalytic organic synthesis. Besides, the realization of an entirely new generation of 100% depoisoning, anti-aggregation catalysts with substantially enhanced catalyst life-time is also targeted.

For this, a series of self-assembly processes on the mesoscale will be used to create highly uniform arrays of catalyst-particle-in-a-TiO2-cavity. Catalytic features of, for example, metal or alloy nanoparticles, can ideally interact with the photocatalytic properties of the TiO2 cavities. The cavity can be optimized for optical and electronic properties by doping and band-gap engineering; the geometry of the TiO2 host can be tuned to the range of a few nm.

In photocatalytic/catalytic reactions, this nanoscopic design will lead to a radical change in the controllability of length and time-scales (reactant, charge carrier and ionic transport in the substrate). The nanoscale assembly principles used in this project will be explored also with focus on their scalability, to create square meters of nanoscopically ordered catalyst surfaces. We target to demonstrate the feasibility of the implementation of these nanoscale principles in a prototype macroscopic reactor.