Research Interests


Research Overview

              Our research goal is to develop broad-ranging, state-of-the-art programs based on organic synthetic chemistry and inorganic coordination chemistry and apply this to problems of both fundamental interest and practical importance. We have two main areas of focus: the development of new selective actinide coordination ligands for use in sensors and waste remediation, and the development of heterocyclic supported metal catalysts for improved reaction mechanisms, reduced wastes and "green" or sustainable chemistry.

Sensors and Extractants for Actinides

                One proposal to limit greenhouse gas emmisions is to increase the use of nuclear power; however, the potential for contamination of the environment with radioactive materials remains a concern. A resurgence of interest in actinide coordination chemistry (for example -  Thorium, Uranium, Neptunium, and Plutonium) has been inspired by the need to develop new sequestration technologies and to further our understanding of the chemistry of these radioactive, toxic heavy metals. New ligands and materials will be required that can coordinate, sense, manipulate, and purify actinides for waste remediation and for use in decontamination and detection applications. This could include sensors or "sensing" polymers for rapid detection and isolation these metals in the field without requiring complicated laboratory equipment. Given that the remediation of nuclear fuel wastes is made more difficult based on gaps that remain in our understanding of actinide chemistry, we investigate lanthanide and actinide complexes featuring soft-donor atoms (i.e., nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous) to probe the differences in the chemistry of the f-elements.

A video abstract of the sensors project - from the This is Auburn - This is Research feature - Jan 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO8tI57_s28

  1. Maynard, B. A.; Sykora, R. A.; Mague, J. T.; Gorden, A. E. V. "Actinide Tetracyanoplatinates: Synthesis and Structural Characterization With Uncharacteristic Th-NC Coordination and Thorium Fluorescence" Chem. Commun. 201046, 4944 – 4946.  
  2. DeVore, M.;  Gorden, A.E. V. "Copper and Uranyl Extraction from Aqueous Solution Using Bis-dithiophosphinite Ligands" Polyhedron, 2012, 42, (1), 271-275.
  3. Gorden, A.E. V.; DeVore, M. A., II; Maynard, B.A.; " Coordination Chemistry with f-Element Complexes for An Improved Understanding of Factors that Contribute to Extraction Selectivity," Inorg. Chem.201352 (7), pp 3445–3458
  4. Maynard, B.A.; Lynn, K.A.; Sykora, R. E ;Gorden, A. E. V. Emission, "Raman Spectroscopy, and Structural Characterization of Actinide Tetracyanometallates" Inorg. Chem. 2013, 52 (9) 4880-4889. 
  5. Maynard, B.A.; Brooks, J. C.; Hardy, E. E.; Easley, C. J.; Gorden, Anne E.V. * “Synthesis, single crystal X-ray structural elucidation, electronic spectroscopy, and microfluidic detection of Cu+2 and UO2+2 [di-tert-butyl-salphenazine complexes]”  Dalton Trans. 2015, 44, 4428-4430.

Quinoxolinol supported catalysts

              As we become more aware of the impacts our activities have upon the environment, the simplification of syntheses and increased efficiency of chemical production will reduce waste streams. Thus, developing less-expensive, easier to use or more environmentally friendly catalysts is a promising trend for new synthetic methods. One way to approach this would be improving the stereoselectivity or regioselectivity of reactions, eliminating unwanted side products and reducing the amounts of solvents needed for purifications. Toward this end, we have developed a series of new ligands for metal catalyst supports based on heterocycles in the hopes that improved solubility and functionalization will provide options for specially tailored more efficient reactions taking advantage of bioessential or earth abundant metals like copper, as opposed to more expensive or toxic metals like chromium or rhodium. 

  1. Wu, X., Gorden, A. E. V.; "2-Quinoxalinol Salen Copper Complexes in Oxidation of Aryl Methylenes" Eur. J. Org. Chem., 2009, (4), 503 - 509.
  2. Li, Y., Wu, X., Lee, T.; Isbell, E. K.; Parish, E. J.; Gorden, A. E. V., "An effective method for allylic oxidation of Δ5-steroids using ¬tert-butyl hydroperoxide," J. Org. Chem. 2010, 75, (5), 1807-1810.
  3.  Li, Y.; Lee, T.  B.; Wang, T.; Gamble, A.E.; Gorden, A. E. V.; " Allylic C-H Activations using Cu(II) 2-Quinoxalinol Salen and tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide" J. Org. Chem., 2012, 77, 4628 - 4633.
  4. Weerasiri, K.C.; Gorden, A. E. V. "Oxidation of Propargylic Alcohols using a 2-Quinoxalinol Salen Copper (II) Complex and tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide " Eur. J. Org. Chem. 2013 (8) 1546–1550, 
  5. Weerasiri, K.; Gorden, A. E. V.  “Cu(II) 2-Quinoxalinol Salen Catalyzed Oxidation of Propargylic, Benzylic , and Allylic alcohols using tert-Butyl Hydroperoxide in Aqueous Solutions” Tetrahedron 2014, 70 (43), 7962–7968
  6. Li, Y.; Lee, T. B.; Weerasiri, K.C.; Wang, T.; Buss, E.E.; McKee, M.L.; Gorden, A. E. V. “2-Quinoxalinol Diamine Cu(II) Complex: Facilitating Catalytic Oxidation Through Dual Mechanisms”  Dalton Trans. 2014 (43) 13578 – 13583.