synthetic chemistry for catalysis and materials science

Research in the Campbell group focuses on the design and synthesis of small molecules and materials for catalysis as well as technological applications such as sensing. An emphasis is placed on the creative use of cooperative interactions, such as metal–metal and metal–ligand cooperation, to achieve unique reactivity and function.


Heterogeneous Catalysts as Synthetic Enzymes

This project focuses on the synthesis of porous metal–organic framework (MOF) materials for use as heterogeneous catalysts. Most MOF-based catalysts to date have focused on mimicking small molecule catalysts, rather than taking advantage of the features that are unique to MOFs. Our focus is on the use of spatial control of reactive functionality within the MOF pores, to provide enzyme-like selectivity in catalysis. A particularly attractive target is the selective functionalization of hydrocarbons, which lack the polar functionality typically required to achieve regioselectivity in chemical transformations.

Multinuclear Complexes for Oxidation Catalysis

Nature makes frequent use of dinuclear metal units to accomplish challenging multi-electron redox processes, especially for oxidative transformations such as in methane monooxygenase (MMO). Numerous synthetic examples have also demonstrated that redox cooperation between multiple metal centers can be used advantageously for catalysis. A key focus of our work is using unusual modes of metal–metal redox cooperation, in order to unlock previously unappreciated reactivity.

Porous Materials for Molecular Recognition and Sensing

Selective detection of analytes, such as ions or small organic molecules, is an ongoing challenge in chemistry and materials science. Our research in this area aims to engineer materials that exhibit selective binding of a particular analyte of interest, through cooperative interactions within the material. The analyte binding event is accompanied by a structural change that produces an observable signal, such as an electrical or optical response.