Department News

Prof. Kathryn Knowles Receives ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) Award

November 18, 2019

Kathryn KnowlesKathryn Knowles, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, recently received the American Chemical Society (ACS) Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) Award for her work titled, "Colloidal Copper and Copper (I) Oxide Nanocrystals as Redox-Tunable Multi-Functional Catalysts and Photocatalysts for Cross-Coupling Reactions.” 

Colloidal nanocrystals combine some of the advantages of both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts with unique properties that emerge as a consequence of their nanoscale morphology. Like homogeneous catalysts, colloidal nanocrystals are dispersible in solution and can be well-mixed with soluble substrates. Like heterogeneous catalysts, colloidal nanoparticles have access to a large density of electronic states that enables them to store and transfer multiple redox equivalents, and their surfaces comprise multiple active sites in close enough proximity to enable cooperative reactivity. Colloidal nanocrystals also have size and shape-tunable properties, such as localized surface plasmon resonances, that are distinct from molecular and bulk systems and are potentially advantageous for catalysis.

This grant will support ongoing work in the Knowles group that seeks to understand structure-function relationships between surface redox chemistry and plasmonic properties of colloidal copper and copper(I) oxide nanocrystals and their ability to catalyze or photocatalyze organic cross-coupling reactions, which are critical tools for converting carbon feedstocks derived from petroleum into value-added fine chemicals.  

Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) grants provide start-up funding for scientists and engineers in the United States who are within the first three years of their first academic appointment at the level of Assistant Professor or the equivalent.  The DNI grants are to be used to illustrate proof of principle or concept, to test a hypothesis, or to demonstrate feasibility of an approach. The American Chemical Society is charged with supporting “advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the petroleum field,” including any area of pure science that may lead to further research directly impacting petroleum, according to the judgement of the recipient. 

Related Links...