Structure-activated copper photosensitisers for photocatalytic water reduction

Nan Yu Chen, Liang Min Xia, Alastair J.J. Lennox, Yuan Yuan Sun, Hao Chen, Hai Ming Jin, Henrik Junge, Qin An Wu, Jian Hong Jia, Matthias Beller, Shu Ping Luo

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41 Scopus citations


A series of phenanthroline-based ligands have been synthesised and their influence as bidentate nitrogen ligands in heteroleptic [Cu(P^P)(N^N)]+ photosensitisers in light-driven water reduction has been studied. In this noblemetal- free Cu–Fe-based photocatalytic water reduction system, the structural effects of the nitrogen ligands have been explored, including the steric and electronic effects of substituents at the 2,9- and 4,7-positions of phenanthroline. Ligands were prepared that led to increased hydrogen generation, with turnover numbers (TONCu) of up to 1388 being observed. All the new complexes were electrochemically and photophysically characterised. We demonstrate for the first time that the presence of fluorine in nitrogen ligands increases the efficacy of copper complexes in photocatalytic hydrogen production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3631-3636
Number of pages6
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number15
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Copper
  • Hydrogen
  • N ligands
  • Photosensitisers
  • Reduction
  • Water chemistry


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