Driving selective aerobic oxidation of alkyl aromatics by sunlight on alcohol grafted metal hydroxides

Sarina, S., Zhu, H., Zheng, Z., Bottle, S., Chang, J., Ke, X., Zhao, J.C., Huang, Y., Sutrisno, A., Willans, M., & Li, G. (2012) Driving selective aerobic oxidation of alkyl aromatics by sunlight on alcohol grafted metal hydroxides. Chemical Science, 3(6), pp. 2138-2146.

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It is very difficult to selectively oxidise stable compounds such as toluene and xylenes to useful chemicals with molecular oxygen (O 2) under moderate conditions. To achieve high conversion and less over-oxidised products, a new class of photocatalysts, metal hydroxide nanoparticles grafted with alcohols, is devised. They can efficiently oxidise alkyl aromatic compounds with O 2 using visible or ultraviolet light or even sunlight to generate the corresponding aldehydes, alcohols and acids at ambient temperatures and give very little over-oxidation. For example toluene can be oxidised with a 23% conversion after a 48-hour exposure to sunlight with 85% of the product being benzaldehyde, and only a trace of CO 2.The surface complexes grafted onto metal hydroxides can absorb light, generating free radicals on the surface, which then initiate aerobic oxidation of the stable alkyl aromatic molecules with high product selectivity. This mechanism is distinctly different from those of any known catalysts. The use of the new photocatalysts as a controlled means to generate surface radicals through light excitation allows us to drive the production of fine organic chemicals at ambient temperatures with sunlight. The process with the new photocatalysts is especially valuable for temperature-sensitive syntheses and a greener process than many conventional thermal reactions. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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ID Code: 52944
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: oxidise stable compounds, high conversion, nanoparticles
DOI: 10.1039/c2sc20114c
ISSN: 2041-6520
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 07 Aug 2012 23:46
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2012 04:45

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