RSC Lecture: Prof. Michelle Coote; Flinders University
Wednesday, 11 May 11:00am – 12:00pm
This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online Zoom Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom link and password.
Speaker: Prof. Michelle Coote; Flinders University
Host: Prof. Kate Jolliffe
Title: Electrochemical and Electrostatic Catalysis of Chemical Reactions
Abstract: Chemists appreciate that the rate of redox reactions can be manipulated by means of an electrical potential gradient. However, it was only recently we showed that an external electric field can also be used to catalyze non-redox reactions. So-called electrostatic catalysis arises because most chemical species have some degree of polarity and so can be stabilized by an appropriately aligned electric field. However, such effects are highly directional and implementing them in practical chemical systems is problematic. Scanning tunnelling microscopy can be used to deliver the field, orient the molecules in it and measure its impact on the single molecule reaction rate. However, this approach is not scalable for bulk chemical synthesis. We can use the internal electric fields of appropriately placed charged functional groups. In this way, the direction of the local field experienced by the reaction centre is fixed, and by associating the stabilization or destabilization with the protonation state of an acid or base group, it has the advantage of providing a convenient pH switch. Alternatively, one might envisage using electrodes to scale field effects but to date our efforts have resulted in electrochemical rather than electrostatically triggered reactions. Nonetheless these have value in their own right as a novel way to generate reactive intermediates in situ for reactions such as methylation. This talk will outline some of our recent progress in both electrochemical and electrostatic catalysis of organic reactions.
Biography: Professor Michelle Coote is a Matthew Flinders Professor in Chemistry at Flinders University, having recently moved from the Australian National University (ANU). She completed a PhD in polymer chemistry at the University of NSW, followed by postdoctoral fellowships in polymer physics at the University of Durham, UK, and computational chemistry, at the ANU. She established her own research group at the ANU in 2004, where she served in various roles until early this year. She is a Georgina Sweet ARC Laureate Fellow, an Executive Editor of JACS, an elected fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and is the 2021 recipient of the RACI Leighton Memorial Medal. Her group uses theory and experiment to design new synthetic methods and catalysts, with an emphasis on non-traditional methods of bond activation using electricity and light.