Research

Metal-Free Catalysis for Renewable Energy Applications

We are interested in the development of new, low cost materials derived from readily available main-group elements to create robust Lewis acidic materials to replace traditional transition metal based catalysts, targeting both solution and solid state advances. Major drawbacks currently facing this field are the sensitivity of current systems and their inability to catalyze multielectron transformations. One example is the oxidation of hydrogen gas to protons and electrons, which is one of two reactions which occur in a hydrogen fuel cell. Platinum electrocatalysts are predominantly used for this reaction, however, platinum is rare and extremely expensive. Metal-free systems currently have promise for this reaction, but they have difficulty turning over catalytically. Our approach to addressing these challenges will be to utilize redox-active components in small molecules, in addition to the integration of the Lewis acids into porous, semiconducting materials.

Generation of Materials and Dyes from Naturally Occurring Sources

With limited global resources, it is important to develop sustainable, greener chemistry. One approach to addressing this problem is to utilize chemical feedstocks from naturally occurring sources, such as plants. We are particularly interested in the development of sustainable dyes, as synthetic versions have fallen out of favour globally, whether the reasons for this are real or perceived. We are interested in utilizing and modifying naturally occurring molecules to generate novel dyes, sensors and other materials.