Synergistic Photochemistry of Alcohols Catalyzed by Plasmonic Nanoparticles and a Metal Complex

Varun Mohan, Eric Wu, Jaeyoung Heo, Ankita Das, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In photocatalytic schemes, it is common practice to employ a sacrificial agent for scavenging photogenerated holes and enhancing the yield and efficiency of electron harvesting. However, little attention is paid to the chemistry triggered by hole-mediated oxidation. Here, we trace the chemical fate of aliphatic alcohols used as hole scavengers in the photoinduced synthesis of Au nanoparticles. Under the action of visible light and the [AuCl4]- precursor, the alcohol undergoes a sequence of reactions, including oxidation, C-C bond scission, and chlorination, to form a chloroalkane and a carbonyl compound. Mechanistic and parametric studies show that this atypical chemistry is activated by the Lewis-acidic metal center of [AuCl4]- and enhanced by photoexcited carriers generated by interband excitation of Au nanoparticles. This work presents a unique example of interplay between a heterogeneous photocatalyst and a metal complex. Exploiting such synergy can be a route to new catalytic reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1980-1989
Number of pages10
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 14 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Materials Chemistry


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