Photophysics and photochemistry of iron carbene complexes for solar energy conversion and photocatalysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Earth-abundant first row transition metal complexes are important for the development of large-scale photocatalytic and solar energy conversion applications. Coordination compounds based on iron are especially interesting, as iron is the most common transition metal element in the Earth’s crust. Unfortunately, iron-polypyridyl and related traditional iron-based complexes generally suffer from poor excited state properties, including short excited-state lifetimes, that make them unsuitable for most light-driven applications. Iron carbene complexes have emerged in the last decade as a new class of coordination compounds with significantly improved photophysical and photochemical properties, that make them attractive candidates for a range of light-driven applications. Specific aspects of the photophysics and photochemistry of these iron carbenes discussed here include long-lived excited state lifetimes of charge transfer excited states, capabilities to act as photosensitizers in solar energy conversion applications like dye-sensitized solar cells, as well as recent demonstrations of promising progress towards driving photoredox and photocatalytic processes. Complementary advances towards photofunctional systems with both Fe(II) complexes featuring metal-to-ligand charge transfer excited states, and Fe(III) complexes displaying ligand-to-metal charge transfer excited states are discussed. Finally, we outline emerging opportunities to utilize the improved photochemical properties of iron carbenes and related complexes for photovoltaic, photoelectrochemical and photocatalytic applications.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics


  • Artificial photosynthesis, Dye-sensitized solar cells, Iron, N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC), Photocatalysis, Photochemistry, Photophysics, Solar energy conversion, Solar fuels
Original languageEnglish
Article number315
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 10
Publication categoryResearch