Chemistry Program

Research Projects

  • Phosphate Glasses (Research advisor: Jay Baltisberger) – The goal of this project is to study the effects of alkali and transition metal substitution and quench rates on glass structure using Magic-Angle Turning (MAT/PASS) and PIETA sequences on the NMR spectrometer. Currently the MAS probe is performing the MAT/PASS experiments quite well and studies are now in position to perform a large number of various composition/preparation samples. We are also using the PIETA experiment to measure J-coupling distributions in these glasses and hope this will provide useful structural information.
  • Dipolar and Quadrupolar Coupling in Partially Ordered Media (Research advisor: Jay Baltisberger) – The goal of this project is to measure the quadrupolar coupling of an O-17 labeled O2 or CO molecule bound to a heme complex. The initial results on CH3COCH3 have been promising and indicate that the measurement of the 17O couping in this compound is feasible.
  • Quadrupolar Nuclei (Research advisor: Jay Baltisberger) – The goal of this project is to measure quadrupolar coupling in aluminate materials. We currently are getting the MQMAS experiments up and running on our instrument.
  • Solid State INADEQUATE (Research advisor: Jay Baltisberger) – We are currently working on improving the INADEQUATE experiment through the use of z-filters to eliminate dispersive phase terms in the refocused experiment. We plan to couple this experiment to J-coupling measurements in glasses. This is part of a pulse-sequence development effort that has remained an area of interest to Dr. Baltisberger.
  • Computational Chemistry using GAUSSIAN03 (Research advisor: Jay Baltisberger) – A major issue we want to examine the size of J-couplings in phosphate clusters as affected by modifying cation and structural geometry of the pyrophosphate pair.
  • Investigations into the specificity of neurolysin (Research Advisor: Matt Saderholm) – The neuropeptidase neurolysin has a known protein structure and mechanism. While it is known to act on the neuropeptide neurotensin, aspects of its specificity remain unclear. The goal of this research project is to use synthetic chemistry techniques (including solid-phase peptide synthesis) to synthesize a range of fluorogenic neurotensin analogs and FRET techniques to understand how the sequence of peptide substrates affects their rate of cleavage by neurolysin.
  • Increasing the Use of Mass Spectrometry in Undergraduate Chemistry Lab Classes (Research Advisor: Matt Saderholm) – Mass spectrometry is an incredibly important technique in modern analytical chemistry but many chemistry students only get limited exposure to it. The goal of this research project is to design experiments that are accessible, useful, and easily incorporated into standard undergraduate chemistry curricula.
  • Phosphate Analysis at Berea College Farm (Research advisor: Paul Smithson)
  • Development of the Modern Becquerel Cell (Research advisor: Nick Marshall) – The first photovoltaic cell, developed by the 19-year-old A.E. Becquerel, was structurally entirely different from modern devices based on silicon. In the Becquerel cell, light strikes a plate of silver salt on silver metal, which is connected to another plate which is not illuminated. We propose to replace Becquerel’s inefficient silver ion system with modern organic materials, designed to maximize the capture of photons using donor-acceptor complexes. Student researchers working on this project will develop skills in electronics and electrochemistry. Depending on the particular researcher’s interests, work developing new skills in organic synthesis will be available as well.
  • Organic Conducting Layers from Diazonium/Ferrocene Chemistry (Research advisor: Nick Marshall) – Electrically conducting organic materials, colloquially known as organic metals, are one of the hottest current topics in materials research. These materials have current applications in lighting, display technology, photovoltaics, and many other industrial fields. In this project, student researchers will work to develop thin films based on these materials using new methods developed in our lab, and characterize the films using the methods of surface chemistry. Student researchers will develop a working knowledge of electrochemistry and infrared spectroscopy as well as basic techniques in organic synthesis.
  • Development of Green Aromatic Reactions and “Non-conflict” Electrode Materials (Research advisor: Nick Marshall) – Aromatic substitution and cross-coupling reactions are one of the fundamental components of the modern synthetic chemist’s toolkit, used in everything from the plastics industry to the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. In an effort to create green processes used in synthesizing electrode and display materials, we are developing techniques to replace several specific reactions common in materials research with green equivalents, towards the replacement of environmentally costly reactions and rare-earth minerals currently used in these technologies. Student researchers on this project will develop skills in organic synthesis and green chemistry.

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