University of Calgary

Todd Christopher Sutherland

  • Associate Professor
  • Organic Chemistry

Research Interests

Our laboratory studies supramolecular assemblies at interfaces and the research lies in both of organic and physical chemistry areas. Nature uses supramolecular chemistry to carry out most operations essential to life, such as membrane transport, photosynthesis and respiration, to name a few. Our research group investigates a supramolecular approach to developing complex, functional surface structures reminiscent of biological photosynthesis that can be integrated into conventional circuit design methods. The long-term goal of these studies is to build photovoltaic devices that efficiently convert light energy to electrical energy. Our lab synthesizes a variety of porphyrin and quinone derivatives that self-assemble into discrete dimeric, trimeric or oligomeric structures using strong, multi-contact H-bonds. Using complementary H-bonding units that are tethered to electrodes the electrochemical and photochemical properties of the supramolecular surface structures are investigated. A concurrent research theme is the study of the lipid bilayer membrane and its role in organizing the supramolecular assemblies on electrode surfaces. The membrane research involves the synthesis of a library of lipids and their associated supramolecular properties investigated using supported lipid bilayers to probe the charge-transfer properties of H-bonded redox- and photo-active functional units as artificial photosynthesis candidates.

Fundamentally, the chromophore surface orientation, position and charge transport properties are interrogated using photo- and electro-chemical techniques, such as surface UV-vis, surface IR, surface plasmon resonance and impedance spectroscopy.


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