Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. TheMIT Department of Chemistryis taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
The Chemistry Education Office staff is responsible for administering the educational programs in the Department of Chemistry. Students can find answers to many questions about the undergraduate and graduate programs on the department website, and they are encouraged to stop by and see the staff in the office located in 6-205.
The student-run outreach programs in the Department of Chemistry aim to bring the excitement of chemical sciences to the community through lively demonstrations designed to illustrate a broad range of chemical principles. Graduate students visit science classes in high schools and middle schools in the Greater Boston area with a view to demystifying chemistry through hands-on experiments. ClubChem, an undergraduate chemistry organization, conducts Chemistry Magic Shows for elementary schools and youth programs in the Greater Boston area.
Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind. MIT Chemistry is taking a leading role in discovering new chemical synthesis, catalysis, creating sustainable energy, theoretical and experimental understanding of chemistry at its most fundamental level, unraveling the biochemical complexities of natural systems, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, developing materials new properties, and nanoscience.
The Surendranath Lab is focused on addressing global challenges in the areas of chemical catalysis, energy storage and utilization, and environmental stewardship. Fundamental and technological advances in each of these areas require new methods for controlling the selectivity and efficiency of inner-sphere reactions at solid-liquid interfaces. Our strategy emphasizes the bottom-up, molecular-level, engineering of functional inorganic interfaces with a current focus on electrochemical energy conversion.
Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Interfaces. The reactivity of an isolated metal center may be modulated systematically by coordinating organic ligands. We will develop general methods for modulating the reactivity of solid-liquid interfaces by coordinating organic ligands to extended solid surfaces. By adapting design principles for the coordination of metal ions in solutions, we aim to tune the electronic structure, local electric field, and secondary coordination environment of surface-confined active sites thereby promoting synergistic reactivity. By correlating ligand structure to surface reaction kinetics, we will develop a coordination chemistry framework for controlling interfacial reactivity at the molecular level. We are currently focused on developing organic-inorganic hybrid interfaces for advanced fuel cell applications.
Interfacial Reactivity at Phase Boundaries. Heterogeneous catalysts often consist of multiple phases, which, in combination, exhibit superior performance relative to each constituent in isolation. However, current methods for synthesizing multi-phase catalysts often give rise to a broad distribution in local composition and, therefore, obscure the underlying relationship of structure and function. We are developing general electrosynthetic methods for the tunable preparation of well-defined multi-component thin film and nanocrystalline catalysts with the goal of extracting broad periodic trends and fundamental mechanistic insights into the unique reactivity of phase boundaries. We are currently focused on developing multi-component catalysts for the selective electroreduction of carbon dioxide to liquid fuels.
Interfacial Reactivity of Transition Metal Chalcogenides and Pnictides. The efficiency and selectivity of a heterogeneous catalyst often depends critically on its nanoscale morphology, size and shape, because this defines the atomic-scale structures on display at the interface. While it has been recognized that transition metal chalcogenides and pnictides are attractive catalysts for applications ranging from fuel cell cathodes to hydrodesulfurization, systematic studies of morphology dependent reactivity have been impeded by the inability to access monodisperse nanocrystals by traditional colloidal synthesis methods. We are developing novel synthetic routes to this important class of materials with an eye towards understanding structure-function relationships at the molecular level.
Hypothesis-driven synthesis and rigorous physical characterization provide the basis for catalyst discovery and optimization. Students and postdoctoral scholars gain expertise in modern methods for the synthesis of inorganic coordination compounds, thin films, nanocrystals, and organic ligands. We employ a range of characterization tools including TEM, SEM, AFM, XPS, UV-Vis, IR, NMR etc. with a particular emphasis on electrochemical methods. These tools allow us to probe structure-function relationships that guide the development of new synthetic strategies.
Engel, J. H.; Surendranath, Y.; Alivisatos, A. P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 13200–13203. “Controlled Chemical Doping of Semiconductor Nanocrystals Using Redox Buffer”
Surendranath, Y.; Bediako, D. K.; Nocera, D. G. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2012, 109, 15617–15621. “Interplay of Oxygen-Evolution Kinetics and Photovoltaic Power Curves on the Construction of Artificial Leaves”
Surendranath, Y.; Lutterman, D. A.; Liu, Y.; Nocera, D. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 6326–6336. "Nucleation, Growth, and Repair of a Cobalt-Based Oxygen Evolving Catalyst"
Surendranath, Y.; Kanan, M. W.; Nocera, D. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 16501–16509. "Mechanistic Studies of the Oxygen Evolution Reaction by a Cobalt-Phosphate Catalyst at Neutral pH"
McAlpin, J. G.; Surendranath, Y.; Dincă, M.; Stich, T. A.; Stoian, S. A.; Casey, W. H.; Nocera, D. G.; Britt, R. D. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 6882–6883. "EPR Evidence for Co(IV) Species Produced During Water Oxidation at Neutral pH"
Surendranath, Y.; Dincă, M.; Nocera, D. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 2615-2620. "Electrolyte-Dependent Electrosynthesis and Activity of Cobalt-Based Water Oxidation Catalysts"