New Approaches to Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Energy Catalysis Through Chemical Design
Bio: Agnes Thorarinsdottir received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, in 2015, where she worked under the guidance of Prof. Krishna K. Damodaran on designing metal–organic frameworks from salen-based metalloligands. She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Northwestern University in the research group of Prof. David Harris. Her doctoral work focused on employing coordination chemistry approaches to control electronic spins in transition metal compounds in efforts to design bioresponsive magnetic resonance imaging probes and metal–organic framework magnets. In January 2020, Agnes moved to Cambridge, MA, where she is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the research group of Prof. Daniel Nocera at Harvard University. Her work in the Nocera group centers on designing electrocatalysts and electrochemical systems to address challenges in energy science.
Abstract: Synthetic chemistry is a powerful tool for realizing molecules and materials with novel functions for addressing grand challenges in biomedical, environmental, and energy science. This presentation will discuss two avenues by which specific molecular and materials functions may be implemented by chemical design to create chemical systems with advanced properties that enable probing and tuning of microenvironments.
Part 1: Variation of properties such as temperature, pH, and redox status in the tissue microenvironment is closely associated with a number of biological processes and diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) probes that can alter their magnetic properties in response to specific changes in their surrounding environment provide new opportunities for overcoming the current limitations of traditional MRI contrast agents, namely relatively low sensitivity and poor specificity. This presentation will describe the employment of spin-crossover iron complexes for monitoring temperature using 19F NMR chemical shift and dinuclear cobalt complexes for the ratiometric quantitation of solution pH in a noninvasive manner.
Part 2: Global adoption of sustainable energy technologies and chemical industries relies heavily on the efficiency by which small gas molecules such as CO2, N2, O2, and H2 can be converted to fuels, chemicals, and electricity. Electrocatalysis of such gas molecules driven by renewable energy sources offers a promising route, however, performing such reactions in aqueous environments has been limited by the low solubilities of gases in water. This presentation will describe a strategy of harnessing the high gas capacities of microporous water—aqueous porous liquids comprising microporous nanocrystals—for engendering current enhancement in the electroreduction of O2 in water.
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