Cliff Kubiak holds the Harold C. Urey Chair in Chemistry at the UC San Diego Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His research group is focused on two areas: Catalysis of the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide with the photochemical “splitting” of carbon dioxide and “ultrafast” electron transfer dynamics in inorganic mixed valence complexes.
The goal of these studies is to utilize CO2, an abundant greenhouse gas, for the ultimate manufacture of energy dense liquid fuels. These efforts have concentrated on CO2 activation and reduction of CO2 by chemical, photochemical and electrochemical means, and the development of catalysts for transforming CO2 to organic products.
A class of inorganic charge transfer complexes with electronic structures that can be tuned from completely delocalized to tightly localized is under investigation. At the delocalization limit, rates of intramolecular electron transfer in these systems can be so fast that coalescence of infrared spectral features occurs in a manner reminiscent of dynamic NMR, but on a picosecond (vs. millisecond for NMR) time scale. The dynamics probed by this simple IR method track solvent dipolar response, and can be developed as “reporters” of local dynamics. We expect that the fundamental knowledge gained can be applied to the rational design of “electronically wired” metal complexes and “molecular devices.”