The work I did in the Goldberg lab is aimed at finding energy efficient routes for creating industrially relevant molecules from the materials found in natural gas and petroleum. These chemicals are used in the manufacturing of many important commodities, such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, and adhesives. The specific transformation of interest is the dehydrogenation of alkanes to olefins. Current industrial methods for generating olefins require high energy input. The Goldberg lab is interested in developing homogeneous catalysts to dehydrogenate alkanes in a more efficient and selective manner.
This summer I completed the synthesis of organometallic complexes with iridium and rhodium metal centers, with the goal of making new complexes that can productively break carbon-hydrogen bonds. These syntheses involved air free techniques requiring the use of an inert atmosphere glovebox and schlenk line manipulations. I purified the complexes produced by methods including column chromatography, recrystallization, sublimation, and filtration. I then used characterization techniques such as mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.
This experience has given me the opportunity to participate in academic research. I have had my first encounter with inorganic chemistry which has motivated me to declare a chemistry major and take advantage of the skills I gained in lab in my future coursework.