Near-IR squaraine dye–loaded gated periodic mesoporous organosilica for photo-oxidation of phenol in a continuous-flow device

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Science Advances  11 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1500390
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500390


Periodic mesoporous organosilica (PMO) has been widely used for the fabrication of a variety of catalytically active materials. We report the preparation of novel photo-responsive PMO with azobenzene-gated pores. Upon activation, the azobenzene gate undergoes trans-cis isomerization, which allows an unsymmetrical near-infrared squaraine dye (Sq) to enter into the pores. The gate closure by cis-trans isomerization of the azobenzene unit leads to the safe loading of the monomeric dye inside the pores. The dye-loaded and azobenzene-gated PMO (Sq-azo@PMO) exhibits excellent generation of reactive oxygen species upon excitation at 664 nm, which can be effectively used for the oxidation of phenol into benzoquinone in aqueous solution. Furthermore, Sq-azo@PMO as the catalyst was placed inside a custom-built, continuous-flow device to carry out the photo-oxidation of phenol to benzoquinone in the presence of 664-nm light. By using the device, about 23% production of benzoquinone with 100% selectivity was achieved. The current research presents a prototype of transforming heterogeneous catalysts toward practical use.

  • microfluidic device
  • periodic mesoporous organosilica
  • photo-oxidation
  • singlet oxygen
  • squaraine dye

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