Light-tuned selective photosynthesis of azo- and azoxy-aromatics using graphitic C3N4

Yitao Dai, Chao Li, Yanbin Shen, Tingbin Lim, Jian Xu, Yongwang Li, Hans Niemantsverdriet, Flemming Besenbacher, Nina Lock*, Ren Su

*Corresponding author for this work

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Solar-driven photocatalysis has attracted significant attention in water splitting, CO2 reduction and organic synthesis. The syntheses of valuable azo- and azoxyaromatic dyes via selective photoreduction of nitroaromatic compounds have been realised using supported plasmonic metal nanoparticles at elevated temperatures (≥90 °C); however, the high cost, low efficiency and poor selectivity of such catalyst systems at room temperature limit their application. Here we demonstrate that the inexpensive graphitic C3N4 is an efficient photocatalyst for selective syntheses of a series of azo- and azoxy-aromatic compounds from their corresponding nitroaromatics under either purple (410 nm) or blue light (450 nm) excitation. The high efficiency and high selectivity towards azo- and azoxy-aromatic compounds can be attributed to the weakly bound photogenerated surface adsorbed H-atoms and a favourable N-N coupling reaction. The results reveal financial and environmental potential of photocatalysis for mass production of valuable chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalNature Communications
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2018


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