Recently, Professor Zhang Zehui’s research group of School of Chemistry and Materials Science has made important research progress in photocatalytic organic synthesis. On February 16, the research paper Biomass-Derived Single Zn Atom Catalysts: The Multiple Roles of Single Zn Atoms in the Oxidative Cleavage of C-N Bonds was published in the top international chemistry journal JACS Au (Article link: https://doi.org/10.1021/jacsau.2c00605). Qin Jingzhong, the graduate student of SCMZU, and Han Bo, the associate professor from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) are co-first authors. Professor Zhang Zehui is the corresponding author and SCMZU is the first signing unit.
In Professor Zhang Zehui’s research, biomass (alkaline lignin) is used as raw material to prepare a highly active and stable single-atom Zn catalyst (ZnN4-SAC) by thermal decomposition of Zn-alkaline lignin complex, which is used to cleave the C-N bonds in amine (secondary and tertiary amine) molecules. Experimental results and DFT calculations show that ZnN4-SAC activates O2 to generate superoxide radicals(·O2–), which oxidize N-alkyl amines to generate imine intermediates (C=N); and the single zinc atom also acts as a Lewis acid to promote the cleavage of the C=N bond in the imine intermediate, including the first addition of water to produce α-hydroxyamine intermediate and then cleavage of the C=N bond through the H atom transfer process. This method has a number of advantages including easy access to single zinc atom catalyst, low cost, high stability in gram-level experiments, wide range of substrates, and high selectivity. Moreover, this research achievement provides an opportunity for the use of single transition metal catalysts with multiple functions in some challenging organic transformations.
The academic team of green synthesis and catalysis led by Prof. Zhang, mainly engage in biomass catalytic conversion, photocatalytic organic synthesis, and some other related researches, with the support from the School of Chemistry and Materials Science of SCMZU. The team has published a series of important results in international top journals including Nature Communications, Science Advances, Chem, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Society Reviews, etc., making positive contributions to the development of this research field.
Edited by Liu Qiong；Reviewed by Pan Wenjun