Researchers in the Suess Lab tackle problems at the interface of inorganic and biological chemistry. Our main objective is to understand the molecular chemistry that underlies global biogeochemical cycles, with the ultimate goal of deploying this knowledge to improve human health and to positively impact the environment.
We focus primarily on metal-chalcogenide clusters and materials and the challenging redox reactions they perform. Biological iron-sulfur clusters are now known to catalyze an increasingly large number of complex reactions, including the fixation of inert gases, radical rearrangements, group transfer reactions, and organometallic reactions. In parallel, synthetic metal-chalcogenide materials are being developed as promising earth-abundant electrocatalysts, most notably for reactions that are central to a solar fuels paradigm (such as O2 and H+ reduction). In all cases, obtaining molecular-level mechanistic insight into these transformations has been a significant challenge owing to the structural and electronic complexity of metal-chalcogenide clusters and materials. Work in the Suess Lab addresses these challenges using molecular chemistry, and in doing so reveals the design principles that govern the remarkable reactivity of these catalysts. Researchers study both biological and synthetic systems, and thus hone a diverse set of skills including protein expression and purification, air-free Schlenk techniques, and advanced spectroscopy such as EPR/ENDOR.