Summary – Synthesizing and Testing Complexes as Electrocatalysts

Entering this project, I set a goal of synthesizing a few specific complexes and testing them through electrochemistry to see if they could reduce protons to hydrogen gas.  Hydrogen gas is a source of clean energy, as hydrogen fuel cells produce only electricity, heat, and water.  Having the luxury of being on campus for a full ten weeks instead of just three, I was able to successfully synthesize five complexes.  Each of these required many calculations and multi-step reactions to produce the ligand.  I had to utilize the NMR instrument to generate spectra so that I could analyze the chemical makeup of my products and verify that I had produced the desired molecules.  Then, I took the ligand molecules and complexed them with a metal to form the final product.

[Read more…]

Update #3: Crystallizing the Complexes

Recently, I have spent a significant amount of time attempting to crystallize my complexes.  This is an important step because crystals are a purer form of the complex and will allow us to analyze the structure and verify that we have synthesized the desired complex.  However, I have only been able to get crystals of one out of my three complexes so far.  The technique I am currently using involves liquid diffusion.  The complex is dissolved in a solvent, then slowly layered on top of a denser solvent in which the complex is not very soluble.  The idea is that as the top layer slowly diffuses into the bottom layer, the complex will become less soluble and come out of solution in crystals.

[Read more…]

Update #2: New Complexes and Electrochemical Analysis

To recap, I am attempting to synthesize and test transition metal complexes which can act as electrocatalysts that reduce protons.  This reduction of protons generates hydrogen gas, which is a clean source of energy.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]