Solar synthesis: prospects in visible light photocatalysis

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Date: Feb. 28, 2014
From: Science(Vol. 343, Issue 6174)
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Document Type: Author abstract; Report
Length: 367 words

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Abstract :

Background: Interest in photochemical synthesis has been motivated in part by the realization that sunlight is effectively an inexhaustible energy source. Chemists have also long recognized distinctive patterns of reactivity that are uniquely accessible via photochemical activation. However, most simple organic molecules absorb only ultraviolet (UV) light and cannot be activated by the visible wavelengths that comprise most of the solar energy that reaches Earth's surface. Consequently, organic photochemistry has generally required the use of UV light sources. Advances: Over the past several years, there has been a resurgence of interest in synthetic photochemistry, based on the recognition that the transition metal chromophores that have been so productively exploited in the design of technologies for solar energy conversion can also convert visible light energy into useful chemical potential for synthetic purposes. Visible light enables productive photoreactions of compounds possessing weak bonds that are sensitive toward UV photodegradation. Furthermore, visible light photoreactions can be conducted by using essentially any source of white light, including sunlight, which obviates the need for specialized UV photoreactors. This feature has expanded the accessibility of photochemical reactions to a broader range of synthetic organic chemists. A variety of reaction types have now been shown to be amenable to visible light photocatalysis via photoinduced electron transfer to or from the transition metal chromophore, as well as energy-transfer processes. The predictable reactivity of the intermediates generated and the tolerance of the reaction conditions to a wide range of functional groups have enabled the application of these reactions to the synthesis of increasingly complex target molecules. Outlook: This general strategy for the use of visible light in organic synthesis is already being adopted by a growing community of synthetic chemists. Much of the current research in this emerging area is geared toward the discovery of photochemical solutions for increasingly ambitious synthetic goals. Visible light photocatalysis is also attracting the attention of researchers in chemical biology, materials science, and drug discovery, who recognize that these reactions offer opportunities for innovation in areas beyond traditional organic synthesis. The long-term goals of this emerging area are to continue to improve efficiency and synthetic utility and to realize the long-standing goal of performing chemical synthesis using the sun. DOI: 10.1126/science.1239176

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A361711367