2020 Early Career Researcher Training Grant - Organic Electrochemistry Virtual Short Course

I am a PhD Student at the University of Nottingham and was awarded an ECR Training Grant from Communications Chemistry to undertake a virtual course in Organic Electrochemistry, delivered by S. Stahl (University of Wisconsin - Madison) and M. Rafiee (Univeristy of Missouri - Kansas City).

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I am a final year PhD Student at the University of Nottingham (UK), working in the area of continuous flow synthetic chemistry. This involves performing chemical reactions in a flowing stream and offers numerous benefits to traditional approaches in a single batch vessel, including simplified scale-up, improved heat transfer/mixing, safer operation, amongst others. 

The Early Career Researcher Training Grant I was awarded from Communications Chemistry allowed me to attend a virtual short course in Organic Electrochemistry delivered by S. Stahl, M. Rafiee and organised/arranged by them and their colleagues S. Knapp, S. Goes and J. Nutting, at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of Missouri - Kansas City. This covered fundamentals, analytical applications, synthetic applications and topics of current interest in the research literature.

Organic electrosynthesis involves passing an electric current across two electrodes in a mixture containing chemical reaction components, in order to promote a reaction occurring between them. This offers a greener approach towards performing chemical reactions. Merging electrosynthesis and flow chemistry represents an attractive approach for sustainable chemical production, where chemical flow reactors act as an enabling technology for electrosynthesis, overcoming some inherent issues with scaling-up these reactions.

However, flow chemistry and electrochemistry have historically had limited representation in teaching. This is perhaps because they are only recently attracting more research attention and that they require (what can be perceived as) specialist equipment. Whilst I have undertaken my PhD in flow chemistry, I was keen to improve my understanding of electrochemistry, with an interest in performing research at the interface of the two fields. 

The course was exceptionally well delivered. Whilst COVID disrupted this being an “in-person” event with practical demonstrations, the hosts provided clear videos offering practical guidance. Attending allowed me to develop more solid foundations and begin to construct ideas in an area I am keenly interested in and aim to incorporate into the final stages of my PhD studies and, hopefully, beyond this as well! My aims from this are to combine what I have learnt from this course, along with the areas of research from my PhD to pursue research into an area with the potential for the development of more sustainable chemical reaction processes. I would recommend to anyone with a similar interest in an involvement in electrochemistry to myself to keep an eye out for further versions of this course!

Toby Waldron Clarke

PhD Student, University of Nottingham