In this project, funded by the Chemical Structure, Dynamics and Mechanisms Program of the Chemistry Division, Professor Doreen Leopold and her group will investigate the structures and reactivities of small transition metal clusters. Gas phase metal species will be prepared in a flow tube reactor, and mass-selected anionic products of their reactions with unsaturated organic molecules will be probed by anion photoelectron spectroscopy. For the bare metal clusters and metal-ligand complexes, these results will provide measurements of electron affinities, electronic state energies, and vibrational frequencies. In addition to the training of researchers directly involved in these experiments, broader impact activities will include the continued leadership of a new teaching mentorship program for graduate students and postdoctorals interested in academic careers, and the development of methods to improve the calculator-free math fluencies of undergraduate general chemistry students.
These experiments will yield spectroscopic information for organometallic radicals that may serve as models for intermediates in the reactions of transition metal catalysts, and will help to elucidate structure-reactivity relationships. In addition, these studies of small, well-defined clusters will provide experimental benchmarks to aid other researchers in developing improved computational methods to treat larger metal nanosystems of more direct technological relevance.