Research Topics

The goal of artificial photosynthesis is to reproduce the amazing ability of green plants and algae to use light from the sun to store chemical energy. Over several years, many different approaches have been used to reproduce natural photosynthetic systems. The following schematic representation outlines the different components required to develop a function artificially photosynthetic device, and includes a light-harvesting antenna complex, a primary photosensitizer (P), electron acceptors (A) and electron donors (D), and photocatalysts for O2 and H2 production. Our goal is not to duplicate the structure of natural photosynthesis, but its function, converting solar energy into chemical energy.

A major route to create efficient photosensitizers is through metallosupramolecular chemistry. The interactions among metal ions and donor atoms range from the very weak to the very strong and this diversity has allowed elegant syntheses to be performed. The essence of supramolecular chemistry lies beyond the synthesis of complex structures and in the realm of functional molecular systems. In the field of metallosupramolecular chemistry, metal ions organize organic fragments (ligands) in a predetermined manner to dictate the form and function of the final assembled structure. Equipped with a multitude of possible metal-binding ligands and a rich palette of metal coordination geometries, the metallosupramolecular chemist may create precise architectures with novel properties and function.

Canadian citizens are proud to have a standard of living that has routinely been selected as among the best in the world. The wealth of resources found in Canada, in particular the large quantity of fossil fuels and hydroelectric power, has contributed greatly to our quality of life. However, as the world's population grows towards 10 billion by 2050, and the Earth's non-renewable fuel sources are gradually depleted, the demand for energy will exceed currently projected reserves in addition to raising the greenhouse gas composition of our atmosphere. Alternative energy sources, such as tidal, wind and nuclear technologies have some advantages in specific geographical locations. Solar energy, however, is clearly the most important potential source of energy with 4 x 1020 J reaching the earth every hour, an amount approximately equivalent to that used by all of mankind in one year. Canada is well positioned to take advantage of solar energy as compared to many other industrialized nations and soon-to-be industrialized nations.