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Dr Paola Riente Paiva of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences has been awarded a 50,000 euro grant in the Open Competition XS call of the Dutch Research Council NWO (Domain Science). She will use the grant to study the effect of magnetic fields on homogeneous photocatalytic reactions, aiming to enhance conversion efficiencies.

Dr Paola Riente Paiva is a HIMS postdoc with Dr Annemieke Petrignani, Molecular Photonics and Dr Tati Fernández-Ibáñez, Synthetic Organic Chemistry. Photo: HIMS.

Photocatalysis is an enabling green technology that allows the transformation of light, either solar or artificial, into chemical energy. This is enabled by a photocatalyst, a chemical compound that can absorb light, triggering valuable chemical transformations. A key step in the reaction mechanism is the process of single-electron transfer where the photocatalyst interacts with organic compounds to generate radical species which are subsequently involved in the formation of chemical bonds.

To further develop the process of photocatalysis towards practical and economically relevant applications, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of the single-electron transfer and to control the reactivity of the radicals. To achieve this, Paola Riente Paiva will study the use of magnetic fields in homogeneous photocatalytic reactions. The magnetic fields can improve the efficiency of the single-electron transfer process and control the reactivity of the radical species involved, important steps toward the achievement of a fully efficient photocatalytic process.

Representative photocatalytic cycle. Image: HIMS