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Chemical Transformations Initiative
Dr. Don Camaioni Fundamental Electrocatalysis Team Catalysis Science
Physical Sciences Division

Don's research interests center on reaction mechanisms, the activation of molecules, and theoretical correlation of reactivity with structure, solvation, and surface interactions. His areas of expertise include physical organic chemistry, thermochemistry, kinetics, spectroscopy, and computational chemistry. In relation to the catalysis research thrusts, he is investigating the catalysis of routes from lignin to hydrocarbon energy carriers and the use of Lewis acid-base pairs to activate hydrogen and catalyze reduction of unsaturated molecules.

In the first thrust area, Don is working on the team to examine the catalysis of reduction and deoxygenation reactions of lignin-derived molecules in water and apolar phases by combinations of metal and acid functions. We focus on monitoring the state of the reacting molecules by spectroscopic methods, in combination with first principles theory to interpret and simulate the states and reaction mechanisms. This combined experimental and computational approach potentially allows understanding of the reaction pathways for the purpose of designing new catalysts and improving existing catalysts with respect to activity and selectivity.

In the second thrust, we are elucidating the mechanism of activation of molecular hydrogen by non-metal Lewis pairs for use in catalysis. We are using experimental methods with computational electronic structure methods to develop thermodynamic and kinetic models of these novel systems for catalytic hydrogenation and small molecule activation.

Chemical Transformations Initiative