Chemistry Department Colloquium

"A New Class of Earth Abundant Metal Catalysts for Dinitrogen Conversion at Ambient Conditions"

Presented by Polly Arnold, University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Friday, January 26, 2024, 3:00 pm — John Dunn Seminar Room, Bldg. 463

Dinitrogen (N2), 78 % of the earth's atmosphere, holds a unique position amongst small molecules, in that there is only one industrial process that uses it as a feedstock. The Haber Bosch process, which is a highly optimized, heterogeneous iron-catalyzed system based on iron, is used to make ammonia that is used for fertilizer to feed half of the world's human population, and which could be a future energy carrier to replace fossil fuels. Small scale conversions that operate under ambient conditions could offer food and energy justice to remote populations. Chemists have spent more than a century trying to make catalysts that can convert N2 under mild conditions, and a few catalysts for N2 conversion to ammonia or tris(silyl)amine have been developed, based on electron rich metals inspired by nature such as molybdenum. We have developed a new system, using electron deficient, and earth abundant metals formed into a metallacyclic cage with aromatic ligands, that traps dinitrogen, and funnels electrons and electrophiles to the N atoms, both demonstrating the first nitrogen reduction catalysis by a range of electropositive metal complexes, and enabling the first selective formation of bis(functionalized)amines by any catalyst.

Hosted by: John Gordon

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