At Yale since 1977, Crabtree has developed a number of catalysts for alkane dehydrogenation, alkene hydrogenation and electrochemical water oxidation. He also played a role in the understanding of dihydrogen complexes, notably the use of NMR relaxation to estimate the H-H distance. He discovered the ability of metal hydrides to engage in dihydrogen bonding, analogous to standard hydrogen bonding except that the proton acceptor is an element-hydrogen bond. He is the author of the standard textbook in the field and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Research Interests

In recent years, the Crabtree laboratory has collaborated with a wide variety of colleagues in pursuit of answers to the tough problems posed by solar and wind energy. Their intermittancy requires some type of storage such as conversion to fuels. The Energy Sciences Institute at Yale is the focus for one aspect of the work. Here the problem is to find suitable electrically conductive or nonconductive linkers between catalysts or photosensitizers and electrode surfaces. The Main Campus work relates to developing catalysts for water splitting to oxygen and hydrogen or other fuel molecules. Other recent topics include catalytic conversion of biomass to useful products and development of hydrogen borrowing catalysts that bring about novel organic transformations. The lab contributes some of these results to the ANSER EFRC headquartered in the Chicago area and funded by the Department of Energy.

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Primary Section

Section 14: Chemistry