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Pacifichem 2010

John Watkins

18 Jan 2011

Rideal bursar John Watkins reports on PACIFICHEM 2010, Winter ACS meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, 15-20 December 2010:

I presented a poster in the area of carbon nanomaterials under the title 'Synthesis, characterisation and applications of cationic carbon nanoparticles'. This work is concerned with the surface modification of carbon nanoparticles to make new unique cationic particles for use in modified electrodes with a view to successful electrosynthesis of organic materials.

My work had garnered some interest from the carbon materials section as a cheap and simple method for the creation of carbon nanoparticles especially in the creation of thin film translucent carbon films on ITO electrodes. In comparison to the use of modified carbon nanotubes the nanoparticles are both cheaper and more mechanically stable but suffer as far as selectivity and monodispersity are concerned. Where these parameters are unimportant however, cationic carbon nanoparticles seem to have an advantage.

The plenary speaker was Prof Paul Corkum, speaking on the use of tuned laser energy to excite valent electrons of simple molecules to visualise orbitals. This lecture  highlighted a highly significant breakthrough in the way we understand electron orbitals and was of general interest to everyone chemists present.

My primary focus is within the area of electrosynthesis, and within this symposium the primary speakers were Prof T Fuchigami, on the area of flow-based efficient electrosynthesis using porous electrodes; Prof K D Moeller on the area of green electrochemistry using solar cells as a power source for electrosynthesis; Prof M Atobe on the area of dual phase electrosynthesis in sono generated emulsions; Prof R D Little on the electrochemistry of fulvenes and Prof S Suga on the cation pool method. The general theme of this symposium was focused on green processes using more efficient syntheses with alternatives to high temperatures and harsh reagents.

From the ideas presented in this symposium I have found some new methods and reagents for use in my own research in the area of triple-phase organic electrosynthesis, as well as new carbon membranes for use as electrode materials in triple phase electrosynthesis. Also by sharing my work on the electrosynthesis of organic materials I was able to get some advice from some leaders in the field of electrosynthesis on how best to proceed with a view to further research and potential publishing.

I was very fortunate to meet Profs Fuchigami, Atobe and Little as well as meeting Prof Moeller for the second time. Due to their work being conducted in Japan and America, under normal circumstances I would be unlikely to meet these people at a European-based conference. I am very familiar with the work of these researchers through publications so it was an excellent opportunity to introduce myself and ask further questions about their work.

I was also lucky enough to meet Prof M A White, Dalhousie University, who is developing new nanocarbon membranes which I hope could lead to collaboration for use with my work in triple phase electrosynthetic processes.

In meeting Prof White and discussing other projects within our group she was especially interested in a transparent carbon coating we had developed for glass electrodes, which in based on research conducted by a co-worker of mine who was not present at the meeting, hopefully this could lead to collaboration within this project as well.

John Watkins,
University of Bath

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