Harnessing the Power of Oxygen

Oxidation is the removal of electrons from a substance, and is essential to a wide variety of everyday processes, from charging your cell-phone to digesting your lunch. Designing more efficient oxidation methods thus impacts nearly every aspect of our lives. In the Parent lab, one of our primary focuses is developing methods for using oxygen as an oxidant in chemical reactions.

Permanganate Reduction
Due to its abundance, oxygen is the oxidant of choice in biological systems, driving ATP production in aerobes. Some industrial reactions also use oxygen gas, in particular polymer synthesis. Other industrial oxidations, however, still rely on hypervalent iodine oxidants such as iodosylbenzene, which are hazardous to use and generate toxic byproducts. The primary challenge in developing oxidation reactions using oxygen is slow reaction kinetics, arising from oxygen’s triplet ground state. This triplet ground state leads to a spin-barrier that must be overcome before oxygen can react with organic substrate.

Triplet-Singlet Oxygen Reactivity Scheme
In order to overcome this spin-barrier, our group is designing transition metal catalysts capable of reacting with oxygen gas to form metal-oxo and metal-oxyl species. These metal-oxo and metal-oxyl species are known to drive numerous important oxidation reactions, including alkene epoxidation and alkane hydroxylation. We use techniques such as cyclic voltammetry, square-wave voltammetry, rapid-mixing UV-visible spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, and electron paramagnetic resonance to design and characterize our catalysts.

C-H Bond Oxidation

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,