Small molecule activation is the cornerstone or modern organometallic chemistry.  It is a key to many important transformations, including olefin polymerization, C-H bond activation, ammonia synthesis, and water oxidation.  We use metal ligand multiple bonds to coax small molecules (e.g., NO, CO, CO2, N2O, ethylene) into reactivity. 

We are developing new methods for functionalizing the oxo ligands in the extremely stable uranium fragment, uranyl (UO22+). Modification of uranyl is relevant to the treatment of nuclear waste and provides insight into the interaction of bacteria with the actinides. It also represents an opportunity to uncover novel metal-oxo reactivity with potential applications in catalysis.

Noble metal nanoclusters smaller than ~2 nm in diameter are a relatively unexplored class of materials with potential applications in catalysis, medicine, and imaging.  However, these materials are incredibly challenging to synthesize and isolate.  We are developing new methods to generate these materials.

Nature uses high oxidation state metal centers to perform a variety of important transformations, including C-H bond activation and O-O bond formation.  However, isolation of these intermediates has proven difficult due to their reactive, and often highly oxidizing, nature.  The Hayton group is searching for new ligands to stabilize metal complexes in high oxidation states, in an effort to better understand this chemistry.

The reduction of nitric oxide (NO) to nitrous oxide (N2O) by nitric oxide reductase (NOR) is an important component of the global nitrogen cycle; however, the mechanism of reduction is not well understood. We are exploring the synthesis of new NO and N2O complexes in an effort to better understand this chemistry.

Selective disassembly of lignin can provide a renewable, sustainable source of feedstock chemicals.  We are exploring the use of TEMPO-Lewis acid adducts to effect the depolymerization of lignin.

Homoleptic complexes are those in which only one type of ligand is bonded to the central metal atom.  The high symmetry of these complexes typically allows for simplified spectroscopic characterization.