Meet a Student

Zane Relethford

Zane Relethford is a graduate student in Dr. Christine Caputo's research group, designing and testing new catalysts for renewable fuels. He has been a Teaching Assistant for General, Organic, and Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, and taught Chemistry at the high school level before joining the department in Fall 2015. You can read more about the Caputo Group at

Zane is trying to make a catalyst that can produce hydrogen catalytically, using earth-abundant metals such as cobalt and nickel, rather than more expensive metals that are typically used. Bifunctional ligands can strongly coordinate these metals and use a pendant group to bring protons into proximity with the metals, facilitating redox chemistry to produce hydrogen gas or other compounds. 

These compounds are based on the bis(imino)acenaphthene (BIAN) ligand framework, a chelating ligand group which provides greater stability than less rigid ligands, while remaining easily functionalized for tuning for different reactions. Once they are synthesized and complexed with different metals, they are tested for electrocatalytic activity. If they show promise, their capacity for photocatalytic activity can also be tested.