Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
April 4, 2014
Todd Hudnall, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty, has received a National Science Foundation grant to support research into carbenes.
The three-year grant was awarded through the NSF's Chemical Synthesis program.
"We're taking molecules known as carbenes and we're using them to stabilize compounds that wouldn't naturally be stable, or wouldn't occur in nature," Hudnall explained. "If you got back 25 or 30 years ago, carbenes themselves were thought to be unstable molecules or compounds. Now, we're taking these unique molecules--which are very diverse--and it turns out they are really fantastic at stabilizing even more unstable things. From a fundamental science point of view, it makes it very fun and very exciting."
The $345,000 grant will allow Hudnall to begin the creation of various carbene molecules in the laboratory, which will then lead to the study of their unique properties.
"There's a great potential for some of these molecules to be used as energy storage materials, specifically, energy storage at the molecular level," Hudnall said. "You can think of these things as being little miniature batteries. We don't have the proof of that yet, but that's where we're going."
Tangentially, the NSF grant will also partially fund science outreach programs at Texas State. Already, the university has a collaborative effort established with the McKenna Children's Museum in New Braunfels. Faculty members from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will set up simple chemistry experiments there for children age 3-10 to conduct themselves and have fun while learning about science.