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Spring Chemistry 501 Seminar

Title: “f-block Complexes for Multiple Electron Reductive Activation; Two Metals are Better than One”

Speaker: Dr. Polly Arnold
Professor & Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry
University of Edinburgh

UT Host: Dr. David Jenkins


The activation of small, traditionally inert molecules by metal complexes contributes to our fundamental understanding of metal-ligand bonding and can open up new areas of catalysis. We recently reported the first molecules that combine two strongly reducing UIII centres in the same molecule, using N-donor macrocycles, and more recently, O-donor platforms. These electron-rich compounds are magnetically complex and pre-organised for multi-electron reductions of small molecules.

Work to understand their electronic structures, and their reduction to target new low formal oxidation states, with a focus on Np(II) will be presented. Analyses show significant covalency differences between 4f- and 5f- analogues, showing that fundamental Np organometallic chemistry can provide new insight in f-element bonding theory.

We will compare their binding and reductive activation of small molecules and discuss how the favourability of -symmetry bonding interactions between the actinide and an aromatic-system can be used to direct and control reactions.


Polly holds the Crum Brown Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. She obtained degrees from Oxford and Sussex and was a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow at MIT before returning to the UK to a lectureship in 1999. Her research is focused on the design and synthesis of highly reactive f-block complexes that can activate inert small molecules such as carbon oxides, dinitrogen, and hydrocarbons, and that can provide fundamental information on structure and bonding at the bottom of the periodic table.

Polly has received a variety of awards and prizes including the RSC Wilkinson prize in 2018, the Lord Kelvin Medal 2017, which is the senior prize for the physical sciences awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Seaborg Lectureship 2015 (UC Berkeley, USA), and the Royal Society's Rosalind Franklin award in 2012. She made the film 'A Chemical Imbalance', a call to action for simple changes to achieve equality of opportunity in science, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2017 for her contributions to chemistry and women in STEM.

Thursday, March 28 at 3:45pm to 5:00pm

Buehler Hall, 555
1420 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996

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Lectures & Presentations




Current Students, Faculty & Staff



Contact Name

Linda Sherman

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