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Papish Group Published in Inorganic Chemistry on Biomimetic Denitrification Chemistry

August 2, 2012

Dr. Elizabeth Papish, assistant professor of chemistry, and Natalie Dixon, chemistry doctoral candidate, along with several other collaborators, were published in Inorganic Chemistry for their research on dentrification, a nitrogen conversion process.

Elizabeth Papish

Dr. Elizabeth Papish

The global nitrogen cycle is critical to a healthy environment on earth.  A key part of this cycle is denitrification, which converts nitrogen from excess fertilizers (nitrates and nitrites) to less harmful forms.

The products of denitrification can be nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitrogen (N2) gas; NO is actually relevant to human health and how bacteria evade our immune response.  The Papish group has examined a key step in denitrification, namely the conversion of nitrite to NO.


“Hydrotris(triazolyl)borate Complexes as Functional Models for Cu Nitrite Reductase: The Electronic Influence of Distal Nitrogens”

Hydrotris(triazolyl)borate (Ttz) ligands form CuNOx (x = 2, 3) complexes for structural and functional models of copper nitrite reductase. A copper(I) nitrite complex has been synthesized and characterized and allows for the stoichiometric reduction of NO2– to NO with H+ addition. Anionic Cu(I) nitrite complexes are unusual and are stabilized here for the first time because Ttz is a good π acceptor, yet the spectroscopic evidence described herein shows that Ttz is also a good sigma donor.

This article was a team effort and included postdoctoral and graduate student co-authors as well as collaborators at University of Michigan in Nicolai Lehnert's group.  This work was funded by NSF CAREER.

Mukesh Kumar, Natalie A. Dixon (Drexel Graduate Student), Anna C. Merkle, Matthias Zeller, Nicolai Lehnert, and Elizabeth T. Papish (Drexel Professor).

Learn more about the Papish Group »