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Professor Barry Carpenter

Professor Barry Carpenter

Professor in Physical Organic Chemistry

School of Chemistry

Professor Carpenter's research interests are in the areas of theoretical and experimental investigations of reaction mechanisms, nonstatistical dynamics of reactive intermediates, photochemical reduction of CO2 and renewable sources of transportable fuels.

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Research Group: Biological and Organic Chemistry

News Item: Towards an Artificial Leaf

PhD University College London (1973, H. M. R. Hoffmann, Organic Chemistry). NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University (1973-75, J. A. Berson). Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University (1975-2004). Department Chair, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University (2001-4). Horace White Professor, Cornell University (2004-6). Director of the Physical Organic Chemistry Centre.

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  • Theoretical and experimental investigations of reaction mechanisms.
  • Nonstatistical dynamics of reactive intermediates.
  • Photochemical reduction of CO2.
  • Renewable sources of transportable fuels.

For most of the history of studies in organic reaction mechanisms, transient intermediates, which play crucial roles in a wide variety of reactions, have been presumed to behave in ways that are adequately described by traditional kinetic models, such as Transition State Theory. However, in recent years it has become apparent that reactive intermediates may exhibit effects that are traceable to breakdowns in some of the key approximations in the standard kinetic models. The symptoms of these effects are that product ratios may not reflect the apparent symmetries of the intermediates from which they are formed, the intermediates may have no well-defined lifetimes, and intermediates may even form products in an oscillatory manner. The origins and scope of these effects constitute one of the principal areas of research in the Carpenter group. The work involves a combination of organic synthesis, kinetics, molecular dynamics simulation, and ultrafast spectroscopy.

The Carpenter group has also had a longstanding interest in the mechanistic organic chemistry associated with energy. While at Cornell, this research was centred on hydrocarbon combustion, but at Cardiff the group has shifted its focus to address issues of renewable energy. Of particular interest is the question of how one can use renewable sources of energy, such as sunlight, to produce transportable fuels. This work, like the more fundamental research on reactive intermediates, involves a tight coupling of theoretical and experimental investigations.