Scientific Programme
Sir Martyn Poliakoff

Prof. Dr Sir Martyn Poliakoff, University of Nottingham (group homepage) 

Towards Greener Photochemistry

Martyn POLIAKOFFa and Mike GEORGEa,b
a The School of Chemistry, The University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK
b Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Nottingham Ningbo China,
199 Taikang East Road, Ningbo, 315100, China.Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
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Photochemistry is potentially a very powerful tool for Green Chemistry not least because energy is delivered to reacting molecules far more selectively than by bulk heating.  Indeed, more than a century ago, the pioneering Italian chemist, Ciamician, presented a very powerful vision of the where photochemistry could lead us [1].  Since then photochemistry has become a major strand of chemical research in academia.  By comparison, its penetration into chemical manufacture remains comparatively modest because of a whole series of issues, mostly centred on the problems of carrying out large-scale photochemical reactions both efficiently and safely. 

In recent years, our research group has begun addressing some of the challenges of making photochemistry greener, more energy efficient and more widely accessible.  This lecture will summarize our progress, in the context of photo-catalytically generated singlet O2 [2,3] and other reactions [4]; singlet O2 in particular is a reagent which satisfies many of the principles of Green Chemistry [5].  We also introduce Photo-Electro, a major new research programme in which we are partnering with the Universities of Bristol and Southampton with the aim of transforming how photochemistry and electrochemistry are used in the manufacture of chemicals [6].

We thank the EPSRC, Sanofi, the EU SYNFLOW project, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Nottingham for supporting our research.  MP is particularly grateful to his colleague and co-author Professor Mike George for countless years of fruitful collaboration and scientific partnership in research.  Finally, we thank all of our students, postdocs and collaborators who have contributed to the research described in the lecture, and all of our technicians whose skills have contributed so much to the success of the experiments.


[1] Ciamician, G. The photochemistry of the future. Science 36, 385-394 (1912)

[2] Bourne, R. A., Han, X., Poliakoff, M. & George, M. W. Cleaner continuous photo-oxidation using singlet oxygen in supercritical carbon dioxide. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 48, 5322-5325 (2009); Han, X., Bourne, R. A., Poliakoff, M. & George, M. W. Immobilised photosensitisers for continuous flow reactions of singlet oxygen in supercritical carbon dioxide. Chem. Sci. 2, 1059-1067 (2011); Han, X., Bourne, R. A., Poliakoff, M. & George, M. W. Strategies for cleaner oxidations using photochemically generated singlet oxygen in supercritical carbon dioxide.  Green Chem. 11, 1787-1792;  (2009); Hall, J. F. B., Han, X., Poliakoff, M., Bourne, R. A. & George, M. W. Maximising the efficiency of continuous photo-oxidation with singlet oxygen in supercritical CO2 by use of fluorous biphasic catalysis. Chem. Commun. 48, 3073-3075 (2012); Hall, J. F. B. et al. Synthesis of antimalarial trioxanes via continuous photo-oxidation with 1O2 in supercritical CO2. Green Chem. 15, 177-180 (2013); Clarke, C. A. et al. A Simple and Versatile Reactor for Photochemistry. Org. Proc. Res. Dev., 20, 1792-1798 () Lee, D. S., et al. Continuous Photo-Oxidation in a Vortex Reactor: Efficient Operations Using Air Drawn from the Laboratory Org. Proc. Res. Dev. 21, 1042-1050 (2017).

[3] Amara, Z, Bellamy, J. F. B., Horvath, R., Miller, S. J., Beeby, A., Burgard, A., Rossen, K.  Poliakoff, M. & and George, M. W. Applying green chemistry to the photochemical route to artemisinin. Nature. Chem. 7, 489-495 (2015);

[4] Penders, I. G. T. M., Amara, Z., Horvath, R., Rossen, K., Poliakoff, M., George, M. W. Photocatalytic hydroxylation of arylboronic acids using continuous flow reactors. RSC Advances, 5, 6501-6504 (2015

[5] Anastas, P. T. & Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice.  (Oxford University Press, 1998); Tang, S. Y., Bourne, R. A., Smith, R. L. & Poliakoff, M. The 24 Principles of Green Engineering and Green Chemistry: "IMPROVEMENTS PRODUCTIVELY". Green Chem. 10, 268-269 (2008).


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