Update #1: Synthesizing a Ligand Molecule

In this project, I will be attempting to synthesize particular ligand molecules and complex them with a transition metal.  Ideally, these complexes will act as electrocatalysts that aid in the reaction that reduces protons to hydrogen gas.  Hydrogen gas is a clean-burning fuel, so finding more efficient ways to produce hydrogen could prove crucial in a future where clean energy will be a necessity.

The first step in the process was to synthesize a ligand.  This entailed researching the procedure in chemistry publications, performing the necessary reactions and extractions, and utilizing NMR to verify that the desired molecule had been obtained.  Having produced the desired ligand, I then conducted another reaction to complex the ligand with a certain transition metal.  In order to begin testing the complex’s efficiency as a catalyst, I learned how to perform cyclic voltammetry, an analytical electrochemistry technique.

Early results were promising, and I have begun synthesizing new ligands.  This will allow me to compare the efficiencies of different complexes and gain insight as to which molecular features are best for the catalysis of the production of hydrogen.