Mechanisms of Molecular Catalysts

Reaction mechanisms in small molecule catalysts can be a black box. Our work in this area couples synthetic chemistry with novel transient spectroscopies and electrochemistry to probe short-lived reaction intermediates. As part of this program, we are developing a temperature-jump transient technique that will allow us to observe catalytic cycles with nanosecond resolution. Currently, we are investigating organic and dual photoredox reactions, with studies on classical transition metal coupling reactions planned. 

Renewable Energy for Fossil Fuels

Though alternative energy technologies are increasingly common, fossil fuels are unlikely to disappear altogether in the next 50+ years. We are interested in developing strategies to use renewable energy sources to make oil and gas refining more energy efficient as a stepping stone to full use of renewables. As a starting point, we are investigating the photochemical transformations of refractory sulfur compounds that must be removed at a significant energy cost during the refining process. 

Tattoo Close-up

Photochemistry of Tattoos

Why does light cause tattoos to fade? We are currently investigating the composition of commercial tattoo inks as well as the underlying photochemistry to understand how light causes tattoos to change and what underlying risks to human health those changes might generate. Information about commercial tattoo ink compositions can be found at whatsinmyink.com.

Hear about our work on NPR.

Reactivity of Metallocarboranes

Three dimensional clusters of boron and carbon present a unique redox-active ligand for use in organometallic complexes. Though a rich library of synthetic methodologies currently exists, the photochemistry and reactivity of these complexes is largely unexplored. We are currently exploring these compounds as possible photosensitizers and catalysts.