Solar and wind are carbon-neutral, sustainable energy sources, but because they are intermittent, reliable energy storage is needed. Catalysts that efficiently interconvert between electrical energy and chemical bonds (fuels) are needed for sustainable, secure energy. Electrocatalysts based on inexpensive, earth-abundant metals (“Cheap Metals for Noble Tasks”) are needed. Ni complexes with “P2N2” ligands have been studied in our lab; a key feature of these diphosphine ligands is pendant amines that function as proton relays, facilitating proton mobility. The crucial role of controlled structural dynamics is recognized for many enzymes, but is seldom used in synthetic catalysts. Appending long alkyl chains in the outer coordination sphere of the catalyst leads to slower structural dynamics of the ligand, with the turnover frequency increasing by orders of magnitude as the conformational dynamics become slower. Controlling all of the system components reverses the trade-off normally encountered between rates and overpotentials, providing design principles for multi-electron, multi-proton reactions.
About the Speaker:
Morris Bullock is a Laboratory Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and is the Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center. He received a B.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979, where he did undergraduate research with Prof. Tom Meyer. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, working with Prof. Chuck Casey, and was a postdoc at Colorado State University with Prof. Jack Norton. He was at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1985-2006. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Chemical Society, and the Washington State Academy of Sciences. He received the award in Homogeneous Catalysis from the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2013. In 2015, he and the Hydrogen Catalysis team at PNNL were honored with the ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science.