10/01/19 - 9:45 AM to 11:00 AM
Department Seminar: Professor Ellen Matson
Exploring the synthesis and reactivity of polyoxovanadate-alkoxides: Novel reductive chemistries with metal-oxide clusters
The development of alternative fuels from secure and sustainable resources is one of the greatest environmental and economic challenge society faces today. The development of methods for the conversion of inert and abundant, gaseous contaminants into energy-rich fuels and commodity chemicals requires the generation of catalysts that can perform a complex series of multi-electron and multi-proton transformations, facilitating the desired reactions selectively under ambient conditions. Research in the Matson group focuses on using synthetic inorganic chemistry to address issues related to energy storage and production. Toward accomplishing these goals, we are investigating the synthesis, characterization and reactivity of heterometallic polyoxovanadate-alkoxide clusters. These unique, multimetallic assemblies are generated in high yields via solvothermal reactions from simple molecular precursors. Notably, the Lindqvist, polyoxovanadate subunit possesses a high degree of redox flexibility, rendering it ideal for supporting multielectron transformations of energy-poor substrates. Additionally, these metal-oxide fragments have the capacity to serve as models for reduce metal-oxide surfaces, given their distinct ability to form oxygen-atom vacancies at single metal sites within the inorganic framework. Here, we present our results related to the activation of small molecules across these homo- and heterometallic polyoxovanadate-alkoxide clusters.
Research in Professor Matson's group focuses on using a synthetic inorganic chemistry perspective to address current global issues related to energy storage and production. The Matson group is investigating new approaches to catalyst design that applies fundamental knowledge from bioinorganic systems and heterogeneous catalyst-support interactions. Researchers have recently discovered a new class of metal-oxide metalloligands capable of participating in cooperative small molecule activation. The main objectives of this research include (i) determining how the electronic properties and activity of a homogeneous, heterometallic catalyst can be influenced by a reducible metal-oxide support and (ii) revealing the role of metal/metalloligand interactions in the cooperative intramolecular electron and proton transport that enables substrate activation. Insights from these investigations will translate broadly into improved designs for homogeneous catalysts targeting the sustainable production of chemical fuels. Additionally, the Matson group is developing earth-abundant, metal-oxide cluster complexes to serve as electrolytes for redox-flow batteries. Their approach to electrolyte design capitalizes on the stability, solubility, and rich redox chemistry of the transition metal-functionalized polyoxovanadate-alkoxide clusters discovered in our laboratory. These heterometallic complexes are generated via single-step, self-assembly pathways from inexpensive, commercial starting materials and undergo multiple highly reversible redox events, making them promising candidates for flow-battery applications.
Professor Matson attended Boston University, pursuing simultaneous degrees in science education and chemistry. She earned her doctorate at Purdue University, and was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.