Research in the Milsmann lab combines the areas of physical inorganic chemistry, synthetic inorganic chemistry, and catalysis to find new solutions towards efficient solar energy conversion. With a particular focus on sustainability and green chemistry, we try to utilize compounds based on earth-abundant elements in (photo)chemical processes that are traditionally dominated by precious metal catalysts. All projects in the group involve the synthesis and manipulation of air-sensitive materials under rigorously inert conditions and take advantage of the large tool box of available physical methods for in-depths analysis and characterization.
One major area of interest is the development of molecular photosensitizers using early transition metals. Detailed spectroscopic studies supported by computational analysis provide insight into the fundamental processes behind photo-induced charge separation and single-electron transfer in this new class of materials. Systematic synthetic modifications of the compounds allow us to fine-tune the optical and electrochemical properties and provide a deeper understanding of the underlying principles of function.
A second area of interest is the generation of reactive nitrogen species from thermodynamically stable sources via photo-induced single-electron transfer. These compounds that find application in many different areas ranging from the production of pharmaceuticals to the generation of fuels are currently produced in energy-intensive processes using highly reactive or even explosive reagents. True to our overall mission of reducing the environmental footprint of photocatalytic methods, we employ base metal catalysts containing iron or molybdenum as the reactive center.