Robert J. Angelici

Organometallic Chemistry, Catalysis
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Research Interests


As an Emeritus Professor and Senior Chemist in the Ames Laboratory, Professor Angelici collaborates with other faculty members on two projects:

  1. Organometallic Chemistry-Inspired Heterogeneous Catalysis
  2. In collaboration with Professor Keith Woo, we have uncovered reactions that are catalyzed by bulk gold metal. Our studies are grounded in known reactions of organic ligands in organometallic transition metal complexes. Although gold metal has a reputation for being a poor catalyst (except when its particle sizes are < 5 nm), we have found that bulk gold is able to catalyze the following reactions involving oxidations with O2:

    1. Isocyanides (C≡N-R) with Amines

    2. CO with Primary Amines
    3. Oxidative-dehydrogenation of Amines

    Gold-catalyzed reactions of diazoalkanes that do not involve O2:


    From these early studies, it is obvious that gold metal is not as catalytically inactive as previously assumed. Using principles learned from organometallic chemistry, we will explore other reactions on other metal surfaces. [Published papers giving details of this work are given in the publications list.]

  3. Electrochemical Reduction of CO2
  4. With goals of reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and utilizing excess electric energy produced by wind and solar energy installations during low-electric-demand times, we will explore the electrochemical reduction of CO2 (emitted by power plants) to produce hydrocarbons and other organic molecules that can be used as fuels. This project will be done in collaboration with Professors Andrew Hillier and Keith Woo.