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Organic synthesis driven by heterogeneous catalysis is a central research theme to both fundamental research and industrial production of fine chemicals. However, the employment of stoichiometric strong oxidizing or reducing reagents (e.g., K2Cr2O7 and LiAlH4) and harsh reaction conditions (e.g., high temperature and pressure) always leads to the products of overreaction and other by-product residues (e.g., salt and acid waste). Thus the poor control of product selectivity and tremendous energy consumption result in the urgent demand to develop novel technologies for heterogeneous catalysis. Given the current global theme of development in CO2 reduction and sustainable energy utilization, one promising protocol is heterogeneous photocatalysis. It enables sustainable solar-to-chemical energy conversion under mild conditions (e.g., room temperature, ambient pressure, and air as the oxidant) and offers unique reaction pathways for improved selectivity control. To accurately tailor the selectivity of desired products, the electronic structure (e.g., positions of valence-band maximum and conduction-band minimum), geometric structure (e.g., nanorod, nanosheet, and porous morphology), and surface chemical micro-environment (e.g., vacancy sites and co-catalysts) of heterogeneous photocatalysts require rational design and construction. In this review, we will briefly analyze some effective photocatalytic systems with the excellent regulation ability of product selectivity in organic transformations (mainly oxidation and reduction types) under visible light irradiation, and put forward opinions on the optimal fabrication of nanostructured photocatalysts to realize selective organic synthesis.

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Control of selectivity in organic synthesis via heterogeneous photocatalysis under visible light

Show Author's information Yitao Dai1,2( )Yujie Xiong2( )
Suzhou Institute for Advanced Research, University of Science and Technology of China, Suzhou 215123, China
School of Chemistry and Materials Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China


Organic synthesis driven by heterogeneous catalysis is a central research theme to both fundamental research and industrial production of fine chemicals. However, the employment of stoichiometric strong oxidizing or reducing reagents (e.g., K2Cr2O7 and LiAlH4) and harsh reaction conditions (e.g., high temperature and pressure) always leads to the products of overreaction and other by-product residues (e.g., salt and acid waste). Thus the poor control of product selectivity and tremendous energy consumption result in the urgent demand to develop novel technologies for heterogeneous catalysis. Given the current global theme of development in CO2 reduction and sustainable energy utilization, one promising protocol is heterogeneous photocatalysis. It enables sustainable solar-to-chemical energy conversion under mild conditions (e.g., room temperature, ambient pressure, and air as the oxidant) and offers unique reaction pathways for improved selectivity control. To accurately tailor the selectivity of desired products, the electronic structure (e.g., positions of valence-band maximum and conduction-band minimum), geometric structure (e.g., nanorod, nanosheet, and porous morphology), and surface chemical micro-environment (e.g., vacancy sites and co-catalysts) of heterogeneous photocatalysts require rational design and construction. In this review, we will briefly analyze some effective photocatalytic systems with the excellent regulation ability of product selectivity in organic transformations (mainly oxidation and reduction types) under visible light irradiation, and put forward opinions on the optimal fabrication of nanostructured photocatalysts to realize selective organic synthesis.


organic synthesis, selectivity control, heterogeneous photocatalysis, photocatalyst design, visible light irradiation
Received: 11 April 2022 Revised: 06 May 2022 Accepted: 10 May 2022 Published: 12 May 2022 Issue date: June 2022
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Received: 11 April 2022
Revised: 06 May 2022
Accepted: 10 May 2022
Published: 12 May 2022
Issue date: June 2022


© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Tsinghua University Press.



This work was supported by the National Key R & D Program of China (No. 2020YFA0406103), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (Nos. 21725102 and 91961106), the Dalian National Laboratory for Clean Energy (DNL) Cooperation Fund, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) (No. DNL201922), and the startup grant from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) (No. KY2260080010).

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