Professor James McKone

Professor James McKone
Department Chemical Engineering and Chemistry
University of Pittsburgh

From Molecules to Materials: comparative studies of proton-electron transfer in redox-active tungsten oxides

Hydrogen transfer reactions are integral to energy conversion and chemical transformations in natural and built environments. Unsurprisingly, then, these types of reactions are actively studied by many sub-disciplinary communities in the chemical sciences, each with their own preferred methods and heuristics. For example, inorganic coordination compounds that perform H-transfer catalysis are often invoked as compositionally precise and highly characterizable models of solid catalysts. However, relatively little work has been done to date to explore the limits of this analogy. To this effect, our research group is collaborating with experts in coordination chemistry, quantum chemistry, surface science, and materials science to better understand the reactivity of protons and electrons across what we term the “molecules-to- materials design continuum.” In this presentation, I will summarize recent and ongoing work we are pursuing to directly compare the dynamics of hydrogen transfer in molecular polyoxotungstate clusters and tungsten-oxide nanomaterials. First, I will discuss independent studies to elucidate mechanisms for proton activation and H–H bond formation in phosphotungstates and tungsten oxide nanomaterials. Then I will cover recent and ongoing work to use molecular and extended tungsten oxides to mediate hydrogen transfers to organo-nitrogen compounds. Finally, I will briefly summarize work in progress to use thermal treatments to convert polyoxotungstates into extended solid catalysts, which enables “apples-to-apples” comparisons of oxygen reduction electrocatalysis for molecular and extended oxides under identical conditions.

James McKone

Dr. James R. McKone is an associate professor of chemical engineering and chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and music from Saint Olaf College and a PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt in 2016, he was a DOE EERE postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University. Prof. McKone’s research group studies fundamentals and applications of electrochemistry and inorganic materials chemistry, guided by the imperative mission of global decarbonization within the 21st century. His awards and honors include Caltech’s Milton and Francis Clauser Prize (2013), RCSA’s Scialog faculty fellowship in advanced energy storage (2017), and the Beckman Young Investigator Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation (2020). Currently on sabbatical leave as the George T. Piercy Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota. Prof. McKone resides in Minneapolis with his wife, Kirsten, and two children, Matilda and Eleanor.

Hosted by Professor Ian Tonks

Start date
Thursday, May 16, 2024, 9:45 a.m.
End date
Thursday, May 16, 2024, 11:15 a.m.

331 Smith Hall
Zoom Link