Heterogenized Molecular Catalysts: Vibrational Sum-Frequency Spectroscopic, Electrochemical, and Theoretical Investigations

Aimin Ge, Benjamin Rudshteyn, Pablo E. Videla, Christopher J. Miller, Clifford P. Kubiak, Victor S. Batista, Tianquan Lian

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41 Citations (Scopus)


ConspectusRhenium and manganese bipyridyl tricarbonyl complexes have attracted intense interest for their promising applications in photocatalytic and electrocatalytic CO2 reduction in both homogeneous and heterogenized systems. To date, there have been extensive studies on immobilizing Re catalysts on solid surfaces for higher catalytic efficiency, reduced catalyst loading, and convenient product separation. However, in order for the heterogenized molecular catalysts to achieve the combination of the best aspects of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts, it is essential to understand the fundamental physicochemical properties of such heterogeneous systems, such as surface-bound structures of Re/Mn catalysts, substrate-adsorbate interactions, and photoinduced or electric-field-induced effects on Re/Mn catalysts. For example, the surface may act to (un)block substrates, (un)trap charges, (de)stabilize particular intermediates (and thus affect scaling relations), and shift potentials in different directions, just as protein environments do. The close collaboration between the Lian, Batista, and Kubiak groups has resulted in an integrated approach to investigate how the semiconductor or metal surface affects the properties of the attached catalyst. Synthetic strategies to achieve stable and controlled attachment of Re/Mn molecular catalysts have been developed. Steady-state, time-resolved, and electrochemical vibrational sum-frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopic studies have provided insight into the effects of interfacial structures, ultrafast vibrational energy relaxation, and electric field on the Re/Mn catalysts, respectively. Various computational methods utilizing density functional theory (DFT) have been developed and applied to determine the molecular orientation by direct comparison to spectroscopy, unravel vibrational energy relaxation mechanisms, and quantify the interfacial electric field strength of the Re/Mn catalyst systems.This Account starts with a discussion of the recent progress in determining the surface-bound structures of Re catalysts on semiconductor and Au surfaces by a combined vibrational SFG and DFT study. The effects of crystal facet, length of anchoring ligands, and doping of the semiconductor on the bound structures of Re catalysts and of the substrate itself are discussed. This is followed by a summary of the progress in understanding the vibrational relaxation (VR) dynamics of Re catalysts covalently adsorbed on semiconductor and metal surfaces. The VR processes of Re catalysts on TiO2 films and TiO2 single crystals and a Re catalyst tethered on Au, particularly the role of electron-hole pair (EHP)-induced coupling on the VR of the Re catalyst bound on Au, are discussed. The Account also summarizes recent studies in quantifying the electric field strength experienced by the catalytically active site of the Re/Mn catalyst bound on a Au electrode based on a combined electrochemical SFG and DFT study of the Stark tuning of the CO stretching modes of these catalysts. Finally, future research directions on surface-immobilized molecular catalyst systems are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1300
Number of pages12
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 21
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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