Professor Chen designed two-dimensional frustrated Lewis pair catalysts for Hydrogenation of Small Unsaturated Molecules

Hydrogenation has diverse industrial uses and potential applications for the synthesis of valuable products. However, the commonly employed transition metal-based catalysts are greatly hindered to catalyze the hydrogenation reactions because of the economic and environmental questions. Thus, searching for searching for metal-free catalysts for hydrogenation reactions has been a major target.

The frustrated Lewis pair (FLP) catalysts received intensive attention recently due to outstanding catalytic performance for the activation of small molecules. However, this concept is typically limited to organic catalysis.

In his recent ACS Catalysis paper, by means of density functional theory computations, Chen and his collaborators, Jingxiang Zhao (Harbin Normal University, a visiting scholar at UPR) and Professor Xinying Liu (University of South Africa) utilized the two-dimensional (2D) phosphorene monolayer as a platform to construct the frustrated B/ and Al/P Lewis pairs by B- and Al-doping for catalytic hydrogenation of ketones, nitriles, and ethylene. According to their computations, the B and Al-doped phosphorenes have rather low formation energies, reasonable thermal stabilities, and low activation energies for the hydrogenations of ketones, nitriles, and ethylene.

This is (among) the first attempt to extend the FLP concept to 2D nanomaterials. Chen and his coworkers believe that this work could inspire more experimental and theoretical studies on exploring the potential of 2D FLP-based materials as novel catalysts for the activation of other small molecules.

For more information, pls refer to

Frustrated Lewis Pair Catalysts in Two-Dimension: B/Al-doped Phosphorene as Promising Catalysts for Hydrogenation of Small Unsaturated Molecules

Jingxiang Zhao, Xinying Liu, Zhongfang Chen*
ACS Catalysis 2017, 7, 766–771.