NDSU Chemistry Faculty Receives Funding To Study Sustainable Chemistry

Jayaraman_Sivaguru_2011Jayaraman Sivaguru, North Dakota State University James A. Meier Jr. Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a three-year, $440,000 award (CHE-1465075) from the National Science Foundation to develop environmentally benign, green strategies for performing chemical reactions with light. These projects are significant in the Department’s research focus area in sustainability and materials chemistry.

The funding also provides research opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students. The research program in Sivaguru’s group focuses on using light for atropselective photochemical reactions. These reactions initiated by light producing molecules that are chiral, which have two non-superimposable mirror images, and make only one of the two possible forms—a single enantiomer.

“Harnessing the power of light to synthesize chiral compounds with high stereoselectivity during light-induced transformations is very challenging. Our proposed methodology has the ability to provide an opportunity to develop sustainable strategies with minimal impact on the environment,” said Sivaguru.

Based on the National Science Foundation funding, his research group will evaluate the use of visible and ultraviolet light to synthesize complex molecules that are enantiomerically pure. One of the research goals is to gain a fundamental understanding of interaction of light with atropisomeric photoreactive substrates. That is coupled with an intricate control over molecular reactivity, dynamics and non-bonding interactions to enhance stereoselectivity in the photoproducts.

“The project also provides students an opportunity to learn modern chemical methods that are utilized for synthesizing compounds with minimal environmental impact,” added Sivaguru. With this most recent funding, students involved in these investigations will learn both traditional techniques to characterize and evaluate asymmetric induction during enantiospecific phototransformations and modern spectroscopic methods and characterization techniques to assess excited state reactivity.

Through the research, area high school students receive opportunities in PICNICS, or Parents Involvement with Children, Nurturing Intellectual Curiosity in Science. Top area high school students conduct research each summer alongside graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at NDSU. Sivaguru developed the PICNICS program as an outreach component in an earlier National Science Foundation CAREER award. PICNICS engages high school students and their parents to learn more about recent science and technology advancements and to encourage high school students to consider science as a career path. The program has trained 42 high school students since 2007.

The most recent National Science Foundation award is a renewal grant for the proposal titled “Manipulating photochemical reactivity through restricted bond rotations.” Sivaguru previously received funding through CHE-1213880 and CAREER-CHE-0748525.

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