Research Overview

 

Our research efforts lie at the interface of synthetic and physical inorganic chemistry with particular emphasis placed on molecular chemistry of consequence to renewable energy. Using the guiding principles of multielectron redox catalysis and proton-coupled electron transfer we seek to develop schemes for the activation of small molecule substrates including CO2, H2, H2O and O2. We make use of expertise in the areas of organic and inorganic synthesis, organometallic chemistry, electrochemistry, photochemistry and catalysis to accomplish these goals. Our group is also initiating work focused on developing fluorescent architectures that respond to organic neurotransmitters. This work has applications in molecular imaging and the elucidation of the chemical mechanisms that control synaptic plasticity. More details on research areas of specific interest is included below.

 

     
The widespread implementation of intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind is requires the efficient storage of electron equivalents. The development of methods to store energy via the generation of chemical fuels in a carbon-neutral fashion represents one strategy to address this issue. A major thrust of our research program is dedicated to the catalytic conversion of stable substrates such as CO2 and H2O to versatile, energy-rich fuels via energetically uphill chemical processes. We are particularly interested in the development of systems for the sequestration and reduction of carbon dioxide to generate reactive small molecules and liquid fuels.

CO2 Reduction and Renewable Energy Storage

   

 

 

     
In developing a research program centerd on the molecular chemistry of renewable energy, we are pursuing new catalysts for the direct photochemical production of energy rich species such as H2 from H2O or hydrohalic acids. We are designing new porphyrinoid architectures that are capable of engendering a multielectron reactivity. This represents a major advancement over typical porphyrin architectures, which only allow for single electron reactivity. Through rational design, we seek to overcome the kinetic barriers of small-molecule activation while driving energy-storing endothermic reactions via the direct input of solar energy.

Porphyrinoids for Multielectron Catalysis

   

 

 

     
The transmission of signals in the brain and nervous system is a highly regulated process that forms the basis for plasticity and learning in the central nervous system (CNS). Discrete molecular processes involving the release and translocation of neutotrnasmitters between individual neurons are the underlying mechanism by which transmission is achieved, however, most of the chemical details that drive synaptic transmission remain unknown. New tools are needed at the interface of bioinorganic chemistry, neurochemistry and molecular imaging to unravel the chemistry that controls synaptic activity. We endeavor to help address this issue by developing fluorescent constructs for the selective detection and spatiotemporal visualization of small molecule neurotransmitters in vivo. We are also developing fluorescent probes capable of detecting markers of oxidative stress and neurodegeneration in the brain.

Probing the Chemistry of Neurotransmission