Catalysis of electrochemical reactions involved in energy storage and utilization will play a critical role in development of future energy technologies. Processes that convert energy to chemical fuels are comprised of half-reactions that require multiple electron and proton equivalents. The electronic structure of a catalyst accepting or giving up electrons dictates the changes in molecular structure and reactivity that ensue from addition or removal of electrons. Our group has had a long-standing interest in understanding the interplay between molecular structure, electronic structure, and redox potential, and projects explore these themes in an energy context.
Current systems of interest are new multimetal complexes assembled using the coordinating ability of metal-bound phosphorus ligands. We are examining the ability of these complexes to act as catalysts for the reduction of protons to hydrogen. We also have an interest in strategies for the reductive production and activation of hydride donors. Target systems have a low-lying orbital that can accept electrons. A reduction/protonation sequence is employed to generate a reactive hydride, which can then used as a catalyst for reduction reactions such as conversion of CO2 to formate.
The group also has a special interest in attaining a full understanding of energetics and reaction pathways in systems of interest using modern computational (DFT) methods.
Projects generally involve the synthesis of new compounds followed by characterization of their properties and structures by a variety of techniques, with an emphasis on electrochemical methods and spectroscopic techniques, including multinuclear nmr spectroscopy.
Schauer is a member of the CO2 reduction and theory teams of the UNC Energy Frontier Research Center.
B.S., Colorado State University, 1982; Ph.D., Colorado State University, 1985; Postdoctoral Associate, Northwestern University, 1985-1988; Presidential Young Investigator, 1989-1994; Hoechst Celanese Young Investigator, 1993; Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 1995-1997