October 25, Mircea Dinca, MIT

attachment3:00 PM in Room 901, 8 St. Mary’s Street

Refreshments served at 2:45 PM

Teaching Sponges New Tricks:
Conductivity and Redox Activity in Microporous Metal-Organic Frameworks

Abstract: Traditional applications of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are focused on gas storage and separation, which take advantage of the inherent porosity and high surface area of these materials. The MOFs’ use in technologies that require charge transport have lagged behind, however, because MOFs are poor conductors of electricity. We show that design principles honed from decades of previous research in molecular conductors can be employed to produce MOFs with remarkable charge mobility values rivaling or indeed surpassing those of common organic semiconductors. We expect that such high surface area, ordered, and crystalline conductors will be used for a variety of applications in thermoelectrics, rechargeable battery technologies, electrocatalysis, or even new types of photovoltaics. Another virtually untapped area of MOF chemistry is related to their potential to mediate redox catalysis. We show that MOFs can be thought of as unique weak-field ligands that give rise to unusual molecular coordination environments where small molecule species can be isolated in a matrix-like environment, akin to the metal binding pockets of metalloproteins, for instance. By employing a mild synthetic method and suite of spectroscopic techniques, we have undertaken forays into the redox chemistry of the MOFs’ metal noes, an exciting area for new small molecule chemistry.

Biography: Mircea Dinca was born in small Transylvanian town in Romania in 1980. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry from Princeton University in 2003, and did his graduate work at UC Berkeley, where he obtained a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in 2008. At Berkeley, he worked on the synthesis and characterization of microporous metal-organic frameworks for hydrogen storage and catalysis under the supervision of Prof. Jeffrey R. Long. After a two-year stint as a postdoctoral associate working on heterogeneous electrocatalytic water splitting with Prof. Daniel G. Nocera at MIT, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at MIT in July 2010. He was awarded the US Department of Energy Young Investigator Award in 2011, the TR-35 Award by Technology Review in 2012, and a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Grant in 2013.

Faculty Host: Ramesh Jasti

Student Host: Yang Yu