Research in Sustainable Materials Chemistry

Graphitic Carbon Nitride

Graphitic carbon nitride is an organic semiconductor made up entirely of carbon and nitrogen. Two example structures are shown in the figure below.

Graphitic carbon nitride is a yellow solid and can be prepared simply by heating compounds such as melamine or dicyandiamine. It is an interesting compound as it can act as a metal-free photocatalyst.

One challenge with graphitic carbon nitride is that if you synthesize it directly by heating melamine or dicyandiamide the resulting material tends to be quite dense. For efficient photocatalysis the material ideally needs to have a high surface area. One method to introduce a high surface area is templating and there are many types of both hard and soft templating. For an overview of these methods check out our review article here.

We used a ‘triple templating’ method to make graphitic carbon nitride with a multimodal porosity. This combined MgO nanoparticles, air bubbles and also biopolymers to control the structure of graphitic carbon nitride and introduce micro, meso and macropores into the structure. You can read about our advances here.