Summary of summer research progress—-ligand syntheses, complexation and cyclic voltammetry

Hi all,

since summer research this year almost comes to end, I want to summarize my research progress. I spent most of my time synthesizing several different organic chemicals which could be utilized as ligands binding to metal centers (e.g. iron) to create catalytically active metal complexes. All organic syntheses are from published literatures. Until now I only successfully synthesized one of them. The difficulty in synthesizing these compounds is not only about reactions themselves, including reaction conditions (Some reactions need air-free environment because certain reactant chemicals would react with several components in the air, making further reaction unfeasible), but also about isolating desired compounds from crudes which may contain a bunch of byproducts.

A complexation process was then operated between the ligand and iron salt.

Besides organic syntheses, a series of cyclic voltammetry were performed to test catalytic ability of above-mentioned iron(III) complex. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) is an electroanalytical technique that investigate the electron transfer-initiated chemical processes, including catalysis.

CV is operated by scanning potential from positive to negative, and certain chemical processes such as redox reactions would thus happen at certain potentials. For instance, ferrocene would be reduced at a negative potential close to 0.0V, and would be oxidized at some positive potential close to 0.0V. Not all chemicals will show perfect reversible redox couples on CV test. Some may undergo single-step irreversible chemical reactions and others may have a combination of several different steps. My goal is to figure out the mechanism of catalytic activity the metal complexes would perform during reducing protons to hydrogen gas. Besides, several important characteristics would be quantified to show how good these metal catalysis are in proton reduction process.

Summer research is coming to an end, but it does not mean my honor research project is over. Based on the success I made this summer, I will be more confident conducting research during next two semesters when I finish most stuffs for my honor project.

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