Universität Bonn

Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

10. February 2021

Ultrashort laser pulses make greenhouse gas reactive Ultrashort laser pulses make greenhouse gas reactive

Researchers at the University of Bonn are using light to produce a highly reactive variant of carbon dioxide.

Laser experiment
Laser experiment © Uni Bonn
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The activation of carbon dioxide by transition metals is widely recognized as a key step for utilizing this greenhouse gas as a renewable feedstock for the sustainable production of fine chemicals. However, the dynamics of CO2 binding and unbinding to and from the ligand sphere of a metal have never been observed in the time domain. The ferrioxalate anion is used in aqueous solution as a unique model system for these dynamics and femtosecond UV‐pump mid‐infrared‐probe spectroscopy is applied to explore its photoinduced primary processes in a time‐resolved fashion. Following optical excitation, a neutral CO2 molecule is expelled from the complex within about 500 fs to generate a highly intriguing pentacoordinate ferrous dioxalate that carries a bent carbon dioxide radical anion ligand, that is, a reductively activated form of CO2, which is end‐on‐coordinated to the metal center by one of its two oxygen atoms.

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