Homogenous photocatalysis

Our Fields of Research

The research of the Dietzek group focusses on the chemistry and physics of electronically excited molecules, supra- and macromolecular structures and molecularly functionalized interfaces. The questions addressed by the Molecular Photonics group concern the following topics:
Homogenous photocatalysis
Image: IPHT Jena

Excited-State Dynamics in Molecular Intermediates of Complex Electron Transfer Chains

Pump-probe spectroscopy Pump-probe spectroscopy Image: IPHT Jena

Light-driven photoredox catalysis is one functional example for which complex electron transfer chains are key to the overall function. For instance, proton reduction is a two-electron-two-proton process involving at least two light-driven electron transfers. Conventional spectroscopy to study electronically excited states, e.g. resonance Raman or ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy, is only capable of capturing the first of the sequential electron transfer steps. Therefore, we develop complex spectroelectrochemical tools, combining cyclovoltammetry and chronoamperometry with resonance Raman, ultrafast transient absorption and time-resolved emission spectroscopy, to first generate molecular intermediates of electron transfer chains electrochemically and then study their excited-state properties spectroscopically.

Design and Characterization of Molecularly-Functionalized Photoelectrodes

Operating a laser setup Operating a laser setup Image: IPHT Jena

We assemble molecularly functionalized photoelectrodes, i.e. ZnO and TiO2 based anodes and NiO based cathodes, and functionally characterize them in dye-sensitized solar cells and photoelectrochemcial cells. Finally, we spectroscopically access the photodriven elementary reactions, which underlie the overall function of the photoelectrodes, by time-resolved spectroscopy. Recently, within the CRC/TRR 234 CataLightExternal link we started to work on fully-organic photocathode materials, in which the function of the NiO is replaced by hole conducting polymers.

Molecular Physics in Complex Biological Environments

CARS experimental setup CARS experimental setup Image: IPHT Jena

Local environments alter the optical properties and molecular responses to external stimuli, e.g. light absorption. Thus, we study the impact of increasingly complex environments on the excited-state dynamics of small molecules, which are used as light-activated drugs or fluorescence sensors in biology and medicine. To this end we either work on model environments, e.g. upon addition of well defined biopolymers or electrolytes, or develop spectroscopic setups to perform ultrafast time-resolution spectroscopy on cultivated cells.

Molecular Photocatalysis for Water Splitting

Homogenous photocatalysis Homogenous photocatalysis Image: IPHT Jena

Within the CRC/TRR 234 CataLight we study the molecular mechanisms of photodriven redox-catalysts for water splitting. The primary light-activated processes leading to intra- and intermolecular charge transfer are studied by femtosecond pump-probe spectroscopy, time-resolved luminescence spectroscopy and resonance Raman scattering. To characterize catalytically competent systems during catalysis we strive to develop ultrafast time-resolved in-situ and in-operando spectroscopy.

Structure and Structural Changes of Solvents and Molecularly-Functionalized Surfaces

Laser experiment Laser experiment Image: IPHT Jena

Recently we started work on spectroscopically accessing the electrode electrolyte interface, by designing specific fluorescence sensor molecules and vibrational sum-frequency generation. Our goal is to understand the local structure of adsorbates and solvent at the solid-electrolyte interface.

We gratefully acknowledge support of our research from the following funding agencies:

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
European Union
European Regional Development Fund
European Cooperation in Science and Technology
Free State of Thuringia
Fonds der Chemischen Industrie
Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
German Academic Exchange Service
Chinese Scholarship Council
Stiftung Nagelschneider