Bettering nature’s approach

Optimizing catalysts from the single molecule perspective
2020 until 2025
Project member(s)
Prof. Roithova, J. (Jana)
Project type

Carbon in nature is important for regulating the climate and life on Earth. But carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activities disrupt this balance and have negative consequences for our ecosystems and the climate. In 2019, human activities released about 43 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere - ten times more than a hundred years ago.

To prevent further climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. We therefore need to find ways to extract CO2 from the air and use it for fuels, but this is difficult because CO2 does not react easily. Electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 is a promising approach to convert CO2, but the perfect catalyst hasn’t been found yet. Professor Roithova and her colleagues have investigated how the 3D architecture of catalysts can influence the reaction and thus the conversion of CO2. The researchers have taken inspiration from enzymes, natural catalysts, to design better quality catalysts. Ultimately, this can lead to the development of new materials that can achieve CO2 reduction more efficiently.


  • Publication: Host-guest tuning of the CO2 reduction activity of an iron porphyrin cage (Natural Sciences, 2022)
    Due to climate change, there is a great demand for ways to offset CO2 and convert it into other, cleaner substances. In this study, the scientists looked at enzymes used in nature to learn how to make better catalysts. They used a cavity of an iron-porphyrin cage to selectively bind CO2 and convert it into CO. They found that the properties of the cavity could be improved by adding potassium, making the reaction more efficient. They have developed a method to measure intermediates and study them using spectroscopy. This allows the researchers to get a clearer picture of how the mechanisms in these conversion reactions work. This knowledge can contribute to the development of materials that can reduce CO2 in the air more efficiently.


Contact information

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