Brown University School of Engineering

CCI Guest lecturer: Dr. Mircea Dinca from MIT

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Friday, May 23, 2014 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Teaching Sponges New Tricks: Small Molecule Chemistry and Charge Transport in Microporous Metal-Organic Frameworks Mircea Dincă Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Chemistry Friday, May 23rd 2014; Noon; Barus & Holley 190 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 and conductivity values that rival or indeed surpass those of common organic semiconductors and other coordination polymers. We expect that such high surface area, ordered, and crystalline conductors will be used for a variety of applications in electrocatalysis, such as CO2 reduction, thermoelectrics, rechargeable battery technologies, electrocatalysis, electrochromics, or 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 molecules can be isolated and activated in a matrix-like environment, akin to the metal binding pockets of metalloproteins. By employing a mild synthetic method and a suite of spectroscopic techniques, we have undertaken forays into the redox chemistry of the MOFs’ metal nodes and their interactions with small molecules such as O2, NO, and CO2, an exciting new area for small molecule activation. Short Bio: Mircea Dincă 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, the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Grant in 2013, and the Sloan Fellowship and Cottrell Award in 2014.