Chemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have devised an innovative method for easily and cost-efficiently eliminating highly resistant pollutants from water
For realizing this method, the chemists require only a green LED light, a catalyst as well as vitamin C. By using these they can synthesize distinctive electrons that disintegrate the pollutants in water. Till date, complicated laser systems were needed to achieve this. Angewandte Chemie, an international journal, published the work.
Scientists in the field of photochemistry are striving hard to find out a way to use light to stimulate chemical reactions.
“The idea is that light penetrates a molecule and triggers a reaction there,” stated chemist and Professor Martin Goez from MLU, whose team formulated the new technique.
Of specific interest are electrons that get liberated by the action of light energy from their molecular compound in vitamin C and freely move in water.
These so-called ‘hydrated electrons’ are extremely reactive and can, for example, help break down pollutants. The advantage over other substances is that the electrons have completely disappeared after the reaction, meaning they do not leave any harmful residues.
Professor Martin Goez
These distinctive electrons can even react with highly stable substances and disintegrate them into their discrete components.
To date, complicated and high-cost high-power laser systems were needed to form these kinds of electrons. Employing this type of equipment is also related to stringent safety measures. However, the advancement achieved by Goez and his colleagues from MLU is considerably simple and highly cost-efficient.
“Our system consists of a standard green light-emitting diode, traces of a metal complex that act as a catalyst and vitamin C. This method can be taught to undergrad students at a very early stage,” stated Goez.
The team investigated the new technique on chloroacetic acid, a highly stable but toxic substance. Using the new system the compound disintegrated into its harmless constituents. They could also show that their cost-efficient substitute could synthesize as many electrons synthesized by a high-power laser.
Apart from being applied to disintegrate hazardous fluorides or chlorides, the advancement made by the MLU team can be used in various other photochemical reactions that are challenging to be stimulated by other techniques.