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Study of Non-Faradaic Reactions at Electrode Surfaces as New Methods in Organic Electrosynthesis

Applicant Tilley David
Number 190533
Funding scheme Spark
Research institution Institut für Chemie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.12.2019 - 31.05.2021
Approved amount 100'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Physical Chemistry
Organic Chemistry

Keywords (3)

organic synthesis; non-faradaic electrochemical reactions; electrosynthesis

Lay Summary (German)

The main aim of this research project is to advance the use of electrochemistry in organic synthesis, with the long-term goal of electrifying the chemical industry.
Lay summary

The use of electrochemistry can prevent the use of dangerous, toxic, or expensive chemicals and materials, resulting in greatly reduced (toxic) waste production. Moreover, renewable sources of electricity can be used, which could eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels for energy in the chemical industry. The challenge is to merge the fields of organic chemistry and electrochemistry, which have traditionally evolved along separate lines.

In modern organic electrosynthesis, electricity is used to give electrons to molecules in solution, or to remove electrons from molecules in solution, which then enables desired reactivity. The aim of this proposal is to simply use electric potential as a driving force to accelerate or enable certain organic reactions without the exchange of electrons with the solution, which represents a fundamentally new way of using electricity in chemical reactions. An advantage of this approach is that pure solvents (including water) can be used without the addition of conducting salts, which are typically required in electrochemical reactions. Thus, the waste generation of these chemical reactions can be reduced even further.

The future of organic synthesis is electrochemical, and this proposal expands the toolkit of electrochemical reactions into a new area that will surely see more activity in the coming years.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 04.12.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants



Research on new green methodology for synthesis in organic chemistry is an important challenge for the scientific community. Organic electrosynthesis is well suited for meeting this challenge since a (renewable) electric current can be used as reagent to replace toxic or dangerous oxidizing and/or reducing reagents. However, what is still relatively unexplored in the field are non-Faradaic approaches to organic synthesis. This research project is devoted to the development of a completely new green electrochemical methodology based on potential-controlled, non-Faradaic reactions at electrode surfaces. Concurrent with the development of non-faradaic organic electrosynthesis itself, the analytical techniques and instrumentation will be advanced to meet the demands for the understanding and in-depth analysis of these type of reactions (ATR-IR, fluorescence spectroscopy, quartz crystal microbalance, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy).