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Chemistry at ESF

scientists on boat deck

ESF's Department of Chemistry is uniquely organized around the interdisciplinary areas of biochemistry and natural products chemistry, environmental chemistry, and polymer chemistry. The department's 71,000-square-foot Edwin C. Jahn Laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility, fully equipped for modern chemical research and teaching.

Chemistry students gain a strong foundation in the traditional areas of analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, but also in the integration of these areas into specialties aligned with the needs of the 21st century. All Chemistry majors participate in research, gaining familiarity with the actual practice of chemistry.

Why ESF for Chemistry?

Featured Chemistry Paper

Shuya Li, Zhi-Jun Li, Hyun Yu, Marion Ryan Sytu, Yunxuan Wang, Debora Beeri, Weiwei Zheng, Benjamin D. Sherman, Chang Geun Yoo, Gyu Leem. Solar-Driven Lignin Oxidation via Hydrogen Atom Transfer with a Dye-Sensitized TiO2 Photoanode. ACS Energy Letters. (Impact Factor: 16.333) DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.9b02391

Solar cells convert energy from the sun to another form of energy (e.g. fuel, electricity). In recent years, dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells (DSPECs) have emerged as a low-cost and environmental friendly solar cell for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuels. DSPECs could offer a means of using renewable solar energy to drive energy-intensive chemical conversions. The use of woody biomass as a source of commodity chemicals and fuels has held promise to displace our dependence on fossil fuels. We seek to leverage the strengths of two different fields, woody biomass and solar fuel, of sustainability by harnessing solar energy to provide the energy input needed for breaking down woody biomass to smaller products (petrochemicals and syn gas). The development of a DSPEC for catalytic lignin oxidation as the initial stage of lignin decomposition is the primary target of our research.

Here, we report the use of a Ruthenium-based catalyst and hydrogen atom transfer co-catalyst to carry out chemoselective oxidation of lignin in non-aqueous media. Under aerobic conditions with solar illumination, conversion efficiencies in excess of 90% are observed for the formation of the oxidized product from lignin compounds. This photoelectrochemical heterogeneous catalytic process provides a unique foundation to perform selective bond cleavage for real lignin conversion technologies. Importantly, this report can overcome a central challenge to homogeneous photocatalytic systems that cannot ensure constant light exposure due to significant light loss to the opaque lignin solution.

Figure. Schematic illustrating the conventional DSPEC in aqueous media (left) and the novel DSPEC via hydrogen atom transfer (HAT) (right) for photocatalytic benzyl alcohol oxidation in the lignin substrates under mild conditions (Inset: a picture of opaque maple lignin solution in acetone). Proposed mechanism: The sequence is initiated by visible light absorption by the photocatalyst, RuC, attached on the TiO2 semiconductor surface, resulting in the formation of the active N-oxy radical (PINO) from N-hydroxyphthalimide (NHPI). The PINO radical selectively abstract a hydrogen atom from a benzylic alcohol in the lignin compound, resulting in the formation of the ketone form of lignin. The RuC photocatalyst and NHPI co-catalyst are regenerated in this process.

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Upcoming Events

Doctoral Capstone
Thursday, August 6, 2020 | 8:00 am - 9:00 am | 323 Walters Hall
Study Abroad Fair
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 | 10:00 am - 1:00 pm | Gateway Center
Graduate and Professional School Fair
Tuesday, September 29, 2020 | 11:00 am - 1:30 pm | Gateway Center | Website
Internship & Engagement Expo
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm | Gateway Center | Website

Contact Us

SUNY-ESF Chemistry Department
121 Edwin C. Jahn Laboratory
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210-2726 USA

(315) 470-6855
(315) 470-6856 (fax)