Metals, ligands, and beyond: Frontiers in chemical science, driven by problems and advanced by solutions
Distinct properties and functions emerge from novel structures. Using chemical architectures built with elements across the entire periodic table, we work towards new discoveries in chemical synthesis, energy-efficient and structure-selective chemical transformations, light–matter interactions, energy conversion, and methodologies to interrogate geometric and electronic structures that underpin the full array of chemistry displayed from molecules to materials.
Synthetic and Mechanistic Inorganic Chemistry
The creation of new transition metal-based molecules, combined with insights into electronic structure, magnetic properties, and reaction mechanism, is a fundamental activity that drives all other developments in the field. As leaders in synthetic inorganic chemistry, we apply spectroscopic and computational investigations to provide deep insight into new complexes, many of which have unprecedented bonding motifs. Our specific interests include multifunctional new ligand design, the fundamental chemistry and catalytic activity of coordinatively unsaturated complexes, including metal-ligand multiple bonds as well as new metal-mediated transformations of nitrogen oxides.
The anthropogenic impact on multiple natural cycles demands the development of energy efficient methods that selectively transform deleterious materials into value added products. Molecularly well-defined electrocatalysts that leverage the redox-active nature of transition metals offer a highly tunable toolbox for addressing these problems. Our interests in this area includes the development of homogeneous, nanoscaled and surface-appended electrocatalysts for the CO2 and NOx– conversion.
Nanometer sized materials have remarkable properties that uniquely accessible at small sizes, where quantum effects become important. Inorganic nanomaterials can show optical, magnetic, or conductivity properties unforeseen in the bulk material. We have an interest in developing nanomaterials and hybrid nanomaterials for applications in energy and nanomedicine.
Metals in Biology
Metals are essential for the function of a broad range of biomolecules. Understanding the roles of metals in biological systems, both natural and engineered, involves research at the interface of biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biophysics. Our studies in these areas include engineering artificial metalloenzymes for chemical catalysis, designing organometallic reagents for biomedical applications, understanding metallostasis in bacterial pathogens, and developing supramolecular nanoreactors.
Our department maintains a wide range of facilities that uniquely enable cutting edge research in inorganic chemistry. Multiple Ph.D.-level staff scientists actively work with student researchers to leverage the capability of these instruments. The diverse array of advanced instrumentation, coupled with hands-on training and world-class expertise, provides students with the tools needed to push their projects in exciting new directions. Several departmental facilities, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, as well as engineering support, are particularly useful resources for inorganic chemistry students.