Photocatalytic oxidation–hydrogenolysis of lignin β-O-4 models via a dual light wavelength switching strategy

Column: Research    Tag: Photocatalysis

One of the challenges of depolymerizing lignin to valuable aromatics lies in the selective cleavage of the abundant C–O bonds of β-O-4 linkages. Herein we report a photocatalytic oxidation–hydrogenolysis tandem method for cleaving C–O bonds of β-O-4 alcohols. The Pd/ZnIn2S4 catalyst is used in the aerobic oxidation of α-C–OH of β-O-4 alcohols to α-C═O with 455 nm light, and then a TiO2–NaOAc system is employed for cleaving C–O bonds neighboring the α-C═O bonds through a hydrogenolysis reaction by switching to 365 nm light. Interestingly, the oxidation–hydrogenolysis tandem reaction can be conducted in one pot to offer ketones and phenols (up to 90% selectivity) via a dual light wavelength switching (DLWS) strategy. EPR and metal loading experiments elucidate that Ti3+ in TiO2 is formed in situ and is responsible for the photocatalytic hydrogenolysis through electron transfer from Ti3+ to the β-O-4 ketones.