Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing research programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences. The award to Fayetteville State University supports research in nanochemistry. More specifically, it supports research that investigates novel synthesis of heterogeneous catalysts where nickel is supported on carbon nanotubes. Furthermore, the project engages undergraduate engineering students in the research activities.
The aim of this project is to develop a straightforward, simple, and cost-effective method for preparation of nickel nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes (Ni/MWCNTs) to serve as an efficient heterogeneous nanocatalyst for carbon-carbon cross coupling reactions. The method involves a dry mixing of the corresponding nickel salt with carbon nanotubes at ambient temperature without the necessity of any reducing agent or solvent under mechanical shaking of a ball-mill. Notably, both the transition metal and solid support used for making these nanocomposites are inexpensive and highly abundant. The as-prepared Ni/MWCNTs nanoparticles will be used for cross coupling reactions under batch and continuous flow process conditions. In this regard, the use of microwave energy will be investigated as an alternative, convenient, green, and efficient heating source to develop the necessary conditions for the catalytic reactions. The proposed research will not only address fundamental aspects of carbon-carbon bond formation reactions but will also aid in exploring the continuous flow technology (e.g., FlowLab) for translation to large-scale production of useful organic molecules. This section of the project will bring together the best techniques to develop a technology with direct industrial applicability and will expedite broader application of continuous throughput manufacture technologies for the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) through the major bond formation utilizing the cross-coupling catalysis in flow. This project is potentially beneficial to industrially relevant commercial applications and pharmaceutical industries, and thus expand the opportunities for future collaborations and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
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.