Solar-Driven Lignin Oxidation via Hydrogen Atom Transfer with a Dye-Sensitized TiO2 Photoanode

Shuya Li, Zhi Jun Li, Hyun Yu, Marion Ryan Sytu, Yunxuan Wang, Debora Beeri, Weiwei Zheng, Benjamin D. Sherman, Chang Geun Yoo, Gyu Leem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Molecular-based dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells (DSPECs) have traditionally targeted solar-driven water splitting for the conversion of solar energy into fuels in aqueous media. This work reports the use of a DSPEC-type photoanode specifically designed to carry out chemoselective oxidation of benzylic alcohol moieties in lignin model compounds and real lignin in organic media. The TiO2-based photoanode incorporates a surface-bound Ru(II)-based photocatalyst and solution-dissolved hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) co-catalyst to perform solar-driven photocatalytic oxidation of the lignin substrates. Under aerobic conditions with simulated solar illumination, conversion efficiencies in excess of 90% are observed for the formation of the oxidized ketone product from model compounds. The DSPEC half-cell exhibited impressive long-term durability, sustaining photocatalytic oxidation of the lignin model compound over a net illumination period of 80 h. This photoelectrochemical heterogeneous catalytic process provides a unique foundation to perform selective C-O bond cleavage for real lignin conversion technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-784
Number of pages8
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 13 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Materials Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Solar-Driven Lignin Oxidation via Hydrogen Atom Transfer with a Dye-Sensitized TiO2 Photoanode'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this