Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia

Photocatalytic system for the reduction of carbonyl and olefin groups

Posted by Institute of Chemical Research of CataloniaResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

We have developped a photocatalyst system able to promote the reduction of carbonyl groups to hydroxy groups using water as hydrogen source under light irradiation. The method features an exquisite selectivity and mildness of conditions, making it suitable for highly functionalized substrates.

Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia
Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia

Technology description

We present an efficient, general and robust light-driven methodology based on earth-abundant elements to reduce aryl ketones, aryl olefins and aldehydes (up to 1400 TON). The dual catalytic system involves a robust and well-defined cobalt complex and a copper photoredox catalyst that use visible light as driving-force and H2O and an electron donor (typically a tertiary amine) as hydride source. The cobalt catalysts used are based on aminopyridine ligands active for photocatalytic water reduction. Moreover, the dual catalytic system operates in aqueous mixtures (80-60% water) and tolerates the presence of oxygen. Exquisite selectivity towards the hydrogenation of aryl ketones is observed in presence of terminal olefins, aliphatic ketones and alkynes. Remarkably, the catalytic system also shows a unique selectivity for the reduction of acetophenone in the presence of aliphatic aldehydes. 

Innovative aspects

  1. Inexpensive hydrogen source (water) - non hydride
  2. highly specific to double bonds coupled to aromatic ring
  3. tolerant to oxygen
  4. eart abundant metal catalyst

Current development status

Experimental technologies


Synthesis of fine chemicals, treatment of waste

Desired business relationship

Technology selling

Patent licensing

Technology development

New technology applications

Adaptation of technology to other markets

Intellectual property status

Patent already applied for

Technology Owner

Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Physical Sciences and Exact Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Other
  • photochemistry

About Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia represents one of the very first fruits of the new scientific policy of the government of Catalonia (Spain) aimed at creating new research centres in strategic areas. ICIQ, in particular, has been created with the ambition of becoming a reference for chemistry in the European Research Space.

Our society faces important challenges in the XXI century, among which health and environmental concerns are of outmost importance. Chemistry will play an essential role in both of these challenges. To succeed, our increasingly knowledge-based economy will require a solid and strong chemical industry; currently 150.000 jobs in Catalonia (and more than 2 million in the EU) directly arise from the chemical industry. In order for this industry to be successful in the future, it must take a sustainable approach based on the rational use of feed-stocks and raw materials. For this, fundamental chemical research needs to be funded and novel approaches into transforming matter must be developed.

We at ICIQ consider that catalysis is the key activity for sustainable chemistry. Catalytic processes can minimize raw materials and energy consumption, and can lead to the selective formation of target products with minimal generation of wastes. In line with this consideration, we have taken catalysis as one of our main research topics.

Complementary to our research focus, attention has been paid to the development of a simple and efficient organizational model for ICIQ, able to overcome known difficulties normally associated with larger and more traditional research institutions. The Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia aims at bridging the gap between academic research and industry, focusing its research on catalytic chemical processes for applications in health, energy and sustainability.

At ICIQ, we consider that patents are highly efficient, safe and solid tools to provide protection from competitors. This is why we file patents for our in-house developed-technologies: to give our co-development projects with industry a strong starting IP position. As a research centre our goal is always to co-develop our technology adapting it to the industrial partner’s specific needs and ultimately transfer the technology to this company, with a flexible licensing strategy adapted to each case.

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