Research

The grand vision of this CCI is to understand, control and manipulate chemical reactions utilizing electric fields. Our overarching goal is to demonstrate that electric fields can completely alter the reaction trajectories and pathways, achieving transformations not possible under traditional conditions. Altering transition states by an external bias is the ultimate demonstration of controlling matter away from equilibrium and toward desired reactivity.

We will perform experiments with electric fields can originating from an external bias produced using nanoscale electrode gaps or from strategically placed charges within a catalyst. This research will chart a path to controlling the environment and electric field around reaction centers to accelerate desired reactivity and selectivity, developing reaction pathways and outcomes that are otherwise inaccessible by altering reaction kinetics and thermodynamics.

Our combined synthetic, measurement and computational efforts are categorized into two interdisciplinary research thrusts, focused on two broad families of reactions:

Thrust 1: Electric Field Control of Isomerization and Pericyclic Reactions. Thrust 1 is aimed at providing a mechanistic and quantitative understanding of how electric fields can control reactions, and is focused on two classes of reactions: isomerization reactions and pericyclic reactions.

Thurst 2: Electric Field Driven Coupling Reactions: Thrust 2 will investigate how an electric field can enable and control bond activation as the first step towards novel electric field-enabled coupling reactions.

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