Plenary Speaker

Speaker Patrick Holland

The plenary speaker for the convention is Patrick Holland, Professor of Chemistry, Yale University.

The Global Nitrogen Cycle and Nitrogen Fixation by Iron Complexes

Patrick Holland

Professor of Chemistry, Yale University

“Nitrogen Fixation” refers to chemical processes that convert N2 from the air into ammonia that is a source of N-containing materials, commodity chemicals, fuels, and fertilizers. Nitrogen fixation has particular importance for the production of fertilizers, and artificial nitrogen fixation is currently responsible for roughly half of the world agricultural output. However, the mechanism through which the N-N bond of N2 is not understood. Since both the biological and artificial catalysts for this reaction use iron, my research group and I have focused on understanding the details of iron-N2 chemistry using the tools of coordination chemistry. I will discuss how advances in the synthesis of low-coordinate iron coordination compounds have led to iron complexes with in which the nitrogen-nitrogen bond of N2 is weakened and broken, and N-H bonds are formed, through well-characterized reactions. These new research results help chemists to understand elementary steps in the conversion of dinitrogen to ammonia.