Research on Capitol Hill

Presenter and Co-Presenter(s)

Alyssa SamFollow

Expected Graduation Year



College of Science


Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

Faculty Mentor

Tianbiao Liu


One of the greatest challenges faced by humans today is energy shortage and increasing greenhouse gas (especially CO2) emission. There is more and more attention being paid to the developing of clean energy and carbon recycle use. Carbon dioxide reduction and hydrogen evolution reactions show promise in addressing this problem by reducing carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide or carbon based organic compounds, forming a system to recycle greenhouse gases, and producing hydrogen gas from water with potential as an alternative fuel. However, the efficiency of these reactions is limited by the large energy barriers and require high overpotentials in the electrochemical catalysis. Many catalysts are made of precious metals, and as such, are expensive and difficult to obtain. Herein, a N-tetradentate ligand dapbpy (dpabpy = N6,N6'-di(pyridin-2-yl)-[2,2'-bipyridine]-6,6'-diamine) was synthesized and coordinate with NiII to get a NiII(dpabpy)(BF4)2 complex. The electrochemical and spectral properties were systemically studied. NMR was used to conform the structure and GC was used to test the product. As a possible catalyst for the CO2 reduction and H2 evolution, the NiII complex shows a 57% Faradaic efficiency of reducing CO2 to CO at -2.2 V (vs. Fc0/+) with perfect selectivity. In the presence of acid (2,4-dichloroaniline⸱HBF4), protons can be efficiently reduced to H2 gas by the catalyst (TOF = 239) with a very low overpotential (0.04 V).

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