Iodocyanocuprate Salts: Syntheses, Structures, Photophysics, and Catalysis

Inorganic materials are important for photo- and electroluminescent light-emitting diodes, photovoltaic solar cells, environmental sensors, and photocatalysis which can be used to destroy organic pollutants in the presence of sunlight. These processes all involve light harvesting which can have two outcomes: (1) long-term excitation of the cluster complex which can be used to destroy pollutant molecules and (2) photon re-emission which produces luminescence behavior. Our lab has shown that environmental conditions can result in alteration of the emission wavelength, which can be used in sensor devices. Copper is a good choice for development of commercial sensing and pollution remediation strategies because it is earth-abundant, non-toxic, and active toward light exposure when it is in the +1 oxidation state.

We plan to synthesize several series of iodocyanocuprates with various types of organic cations. The anionic clusters we will synthesize have the formula [CuxIy(CN)z](y+z–x)–. Because iodide ions tend to produce local clustering and cyanide ions tend to result in long-range bridging, we intend to control formation of our cuprate networks by controlling iodide:cyanide ratios. The organic cations we will use include N-alkylpyridiniums, N-alkylquinoliniums, N,Nʹdialkyl-4,4ʹ-bipyridiniums, and alkyltriphenylphosphoniums. The reaction of the organic cation iodide salts with cuprous cyanide with controlled addition of extra potassium iodide or cyanide in aqueous or ethanolic reactions will produce organic cation salts of the desired [CuxIy(CN)z](y+z–x)– products with a variety of y:z ratios.

We will test the response of our new iodocyanocuprate salts toward selected organic pollutant molecules to determine if exposure to these molecules causes a change in the photoluminescence of our copper compounds which could serve as the basis for detector technology. Our collaborators will determine the photophysical behavior of our iodocyanocuprate compounds and their ability to destroy organic dyes under visible light-irradiation.

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