Inorganic Research

Inorganic chemistry is a discipline that spans areas ranging from materials chemistry to organic synthesis and on to broad problems in energy. The Inorganic Division at the University of North Carolina ranks among the top ten nationally and has been a major strength of the Chemistry Department for decades.

Graduate students in the Inorganic Division are exposed to an exciting research environment, cutting-edge characterization and catalysis facilities, an exciting educational curriculum, and a collegial mentoring environment, all of which together provide an excellent foundation for future careers in industry and academia.

The Inorganic Division is deeply involved in several overarching departmental themes. Catalysis is a particularly prominent research area at UNC, with ongoing activities involving the synthesis of complexes for a broad range of homogeneous catalysis applications – energy, biomass remediation, small molecule synthesis, site-selective activation, asymmetric catalysis, and polymerization – and the exploitation of transition metal complexes in photocatalytic water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction and for applications in biotechnology.

Functional materials chemistry is another strength at UNC, with highly visible research activities in solar fuels, nanoparticles/quantum dots, and photovoltaics.

Recent Research Results

Proton Acceptors

Chris Lennox, a fifth-year graduate student in the Dempsey Group, is first author on a paper...


Dye-sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cells, DSPECs, provide a flexible approach for solar water splitting based on...

Young Faculty Thrive

When Jillian Lee Dempsey was interviewing for faculty positions across the country several years ago...

Representative Publications

Switching between Stepwise and Concerted Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer Pathways in Tungsten Hydride Activation.
Tao Huang, Eric S. Rountree, Andrew P. Traywick, Magd Bayoumi, and Jillian L. Dempsey.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018, 140 (44), pp 14655–14669

Exchange Equilibria of Carboxylate-Terminated Ligands at PbS Nanocrystal Surfaces.
Melody L. Kessler, Hannah E. Starr, Robin R. Knauf, Kelley J. Rountree and Jillian L. Dempsey.
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018, 20, 23649-23655

Investigation of a Catenane with a Responsive Noncovalent Network: Mimicking Long-Range Responses in Proteins.
Mee-Kyung Chung, Peter S. White, Stephen J. Lee, Michel R. Gagné, and Marcey L. Waters.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138 (40), pp 13344–13352

Redox Active Ion-Paired Excited States Undergo Dynamic Electron Transfer.
Ludovic Troian-Gautier, Evan E. Beauvilliers, Wesley B. Swords, and Gerald J. Meyer.
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138 (51), pp 16815–16826

Plasmon-enhanced light-driven water oxidation by a dye-sensitized photoanode.
Degao Wang, Benjamin D. Sherman, Byron H. Farnum, Matthew V. Sheridan, Seth L. Marquard, Michael S. Eberhart, Christopher J. Dares, and Thomas J. Meyer.
PNAS September 12, 2017. 114 (37) 9809-9813; published ahead of print August 28, 2017.

Thermodynamic Studies of Cation–Macrocycle Interactions in Nickel Pincer–Crown Ether Complexes Enable Switchable Ligation.
Jacob B. Smith, Stewart H. Kerr, Peter S. White, and Alexander J. M. Miller.
Organometallics, 2017, 36 (16), pp 3094–3103

Influence of Proton Acceptors on the Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer Reaction Kinetics of a Ruthenium–Tyrosine Complex.
J. Christian Lennox and Jillian L. Dempsey.
J. Phys. Chem. B, 2017, 121 (46), pp 10530–10542