The selective oxidation of aromatic alcohols in water is achieved by using a carbon nitride (CN) catalyst, dioxygen, and visible light. The unique electronic structure of CN avoids the direct formation of hydroxyl radicals, which typically cause the total oxidation of organics. The chemical stability of CN allows several chemical protocols for photoredox catalysis in water, as exemplified by cooperative catalysis involving Brønsted acids. This leads to a new, green pathway for diverse organic transformations using sunlight and water.
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