This center realizes a long-held goal of synthetic chemists: to use electrons as chemical reagents in oxidation reactions (removing electrons) or reduction reactions (adding electrons). There are currently very few cases where this is viable at useful scales and across a range of substrates. The CSOE team brings together synthetic chemists, surface chemists, electroanalytical chemists, theorists, materials scientists and chemical engineers to understand the detailed surface processes happening on a particular electrode and develop creative new chemical reactions. The discoveries, new methodologies and techniques developed in the Center enable safer and sustainable synthetic organic chemistry in both academia and industry. Other broader impacts include graduate and postdoctoral training in team science and entrepreneurship and outreach efforts to underserved audiences including refugee communities.
The mission of the NSF Center for Synthetic Organic Electrochemistry (CSOE) is to make synthetic organic electrochemistry mainstream through the invention of enabling, green, safe, and economic new reactions and the demystification of fundamental electrochemical reactivity. Oxidations and reductions are still done with large amounts of oxidizing and reducing agents rather than the greener and more efficient electrochemical methodologies. However, as synthetic organic chemists work toward more sustainable chemistry, preparative electrochemical methods become natural choices due to their high product efficiency, mild conditions, and ease of scalability. Integrating expertise across many areas (electrochemistry, material science, surface science, computational modeling, mechanistic analysis, and synthetic organic chemistry) builds the knowledge base, techniques, and instrumentation to promote widespread adoption of preparative electrochemical methods. This Center has four thrusts. The first thrust develops electrocatalysts and mediators for C-H functionalization. The second thrust develops techniques for oxidative electrosynthesis. The third thrust focuses on methods and materials for reductive electrosynthesis. The fourth thrust applies the new electrosynthesis methods to complex organic synthesis. CSOE also designs instrumentation and electrochemical cells tailored to the needs of the synthetic organic chemist. The integrated and synergistic research environment offers unique opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. This training is further enhanced through vibrant partnerships with industry, collaborative training with a diverse set of scientists and engineers, and by engaging in community-wide education and outreach.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.