Materials recently studied:
(Photo)catalytic materials for organic synthesis
What are the factors that determine the catalytic activity of a material? How the advantages of immobilizing catalytic centers can be enhanced? Is it possible to establish synergies in design materials that give rise to complex catalytic processes? These questions are addressed from a basic perspective, designing new extended materials based on condensation reactions of different types. We pay special attention to photocatalytic processes mediated by photoactive materials that owe their properties either to the insertion of functional fragments or to the synergistic assembly of building blocks that separately are inactive. Following these strategies we have reported efficient catalytic systems for the photocatalytic sulfoxidation of organic sulfides, C(sp2)-C(sp3) couplings, dehaolgenation reactions or highly recyclable systems for Suzuki or Heck type couplings.
Availability of drinking water is an increasing challenge worldwide. In fact, water is related with many aspects of economic and social challenges, and it is, by itself, a main goal for sustainable development. However, nowadays, 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely managed drinking water services. The consequences of such problem are not only local but also national and global in today’s interconnected world. Therefore, the search of new strategies for water disinfection and purification is still a global challenge. To this respect, owing the outstanding photocatalytic properties found for porous organic materials, we proffer to explore their practical applications for wastewater decontamination. In particular generation of singlet oxygen as a silver bullet is successfully applied to the degradation of several contaminants and to the inactivation of viruses. In addition, incorporation of highly coordinative fragments allows metal removal from aqueous solutions. Overall, the use of extended organic materials is being explored for the removal of three different kind of water pollutants: organic molecules, pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, and heavy metals.
Current energy needs make a radical change in the way energy is obtained and stored more urgent than ever. To this respect, hydrogen is considered a very promising energy vector. However, hydrogen production through an efficient and green methodology is still a challenge. For this reason, in the group we expend some of our research efforts to develop new materials able to facilitate hydrogen generation through water splitting. This goal is addressed from different perspectives: we investigate photocatalytic and electro-catalytic materials to perform hydrogen evolution reaction and its counterpart in water splitting, i. e. oxygen evolution. In a first approach, we investigated the use of oxidized carbon microfibers and their functionalization with metal nanoparticles is electro-catalytic systems. In a further development, we are now interested on photocatalytic reticular organic materials for artificial photosynthesis.