Research Focuses on Metal Catalysts
Loi Do, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Houston, was awarded the American Chemical Society-Greater Houston Section Younger Chemist Award, which recognizes members 35 years or younger for their contributions to education, research or community service.
Do received the American Chemical Society-Greater Houston Section Younger Chemist Award.Do, who joined the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2013, studies transition metal catalysts. His research focuses on two potential applications for these metal catalysts: devising more efficient methods of synthesizing polymers and mimicking enzymes inside living organisms.
“We are trying to develop new transition-metal-based catalysts, in order to engineer new processes to create functional polymers,” Do said. The current approach in industry is to use metal-free polymerization methods, which can be difficult to control. Transition metal catalysts that are cheap, widely available, and nontoxic, can offer a better alternative.
“We are developing homogeneous catalysts, where the catalysts are in solution, which allows us better control over the polymerization process,” Do said.
In addition to designing catalysts to be used in polymer synthesis, Do’s research group has another goal for these transition-metal catalysts: mimicking enzymatic reactions as well as creating new ones within cells.
“We want to be able to take synthetic catalysts that we make in the lab and put these catalysts inside an organism to carryout interesting biological functions.” With this goal in mind, Do’s group is identifying catalysts with the necessary properties to be compatible in a cellular environment.
“My lab’s philosophy is to use chemistry to solve interesting problems: we identify unsolved challenges and try to find chemical solutions for these challenges,” Do said.
- Rachel Fairbank, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics