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Graphitic carbon nitrides as platforms for single-atom photocatalysis: moving towards design principles for improved performance

Abstract

This young investigator proposal aims to create a research group of excellence focused on the field of Single-Atom Catalysis (SAC) in Brazil, based on the Department of Chemistry at the Federal University of São Carlos (DQ-UFSCar). Although the DQ-UFSCar presents research groups established in several areas, including nanomaterials and catalysis, the department does not have groups focused on the growing area of heterogeneous catalysis/photocatalysis, based on Single-Atoms catalysts (SAC). As far as we know, there is no research group focused on Single-Atom Catalysis in Brazil and according to the FAPESP library, there is no research project being funded on this topic. The candidate intends to fill this gap and, at the same time, work closely with established research groups, with complementary infrastructure and expertise in DQ-UFSCar and DEQ-UFSCar. The activities of the research group proposed here will cover the design and controlled synthesis of heterogeneous photocatalysts with Single-Atoms, their photocatalytic applications, development of new characterization techniques for SACs and the investigation of their mechanisms of activity. Specifically, our proposal is focused on the controlled synthesis and use of graphite carbon nitrides (PHI and PTI) as hosts for Single-Atoms of different metals, once the Single-Atoms are stabilized, they will be applied in photocatalytic reactions. The research project is divided into 4 parts: (I) design and controlled synthesis of Single-Atoms catalysts; (II) photocatalytic applications for energy conversion (especially, water photolysis, CO2 reduction, CH4 oxidation), organic synthesis (for example, photoredox reactions, Susuki coupling, and C-H activation) and biomass conversion; (III) investigation of the photocatalytic mechanisms behind the activity of the systems; (IV) combine this knowledge to retro-design the synthesis of photocatalytic systems based on "Single-Atoms" in order to improve their properties and efficiencies. The proposed project is very interdisciplinary and will be performed in close collaboration with a range of research groups in Brazil and abroad. (AU)

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