Regulating Internal Electric Field by Breaking Symmetry in Polymeric Photocatalysts for Visible-Light-Driven Disinfection

24 January 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The inefficient charge separation and transport (CST) process has been a major obstacle that limits the catalytic activity of polymeric photocatalysts. Here we propose a symmetry-breaking strategy to regulate the internal electric field (IEF) in crystalline polymers for enhanced CST and photocatalytic efficiency. As a proof of concept, two crystalline linear copolymers, p-phenylenediamine/m-phthalaldehyde (PDA-MAH) and p-phenylenediamine/p-phthalaldehyde (PDA-PAH), were synthesized. By breaking the lattice symmetry, we observed robust IEF in the non-centrosymmetric PDA-MAH, as compared to the centrosymmetric PDA-PAH. Such strong IEF was extended throughout the catalyst bulk to accelerate the CST process in PDA-MAH, resulting in a photocatalytic disinfection performance under visible light irradiation that surpassed the best of the previously reported polymeric photocatalysts. This work presents a promising paradigm for tailoring polymeric semiconductors with efficient CST process.


internal electric field
conjugated polymer
charge separation and transport
antibacterial materials


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