Research in the LeBlond group can be classified into three areas; Experimental, Computational and Educational
Catalytic reactions are ubiquitous in the chemical industry with approximately 90% of all chemicals produced by catalysis. In our group we are interested in developing new heterogeneous and homogeneous catalytic systems. Currently we’re exploring the Suzuki cross-coupling and catalytic functionalization’s of tetrazoles. Students on these projects are exposed to valuable laboratory skills and modern instrumentation used in organic chemistry.
In collaboration with the Physics department our group utilizes High Performance Computing (HPC) to elucidate problems in physics and chemistry. Currently we are developing models which explain the existence and formation of diatomic hydrogen (H2) in the interstellar medium (ISM). It seems that there is an overabundance of H2 in the ISM. One model to explain its formation relies on catalysis on dust particles (graphene) in the ISM. Experience students gain on these projects include using and interfacing with HPC systems and QM modelling of molecules, surfaces and reactions.
Organic chemistry education is challenging and unique since it requires specialized skills to be developed by the student. For example students must master drawing 3D/2D structural motifs, predict reaction products, reactants and reagents and understand reaction mechanisms. This is especially challenging for both instructors and students online or electronically. Our group developed the EasyOChem question types and tools for Moodle and we are currently developing OpenOChem. OpenOChem is and LTI based web application for online organic chemistry assessment (See OpenOChem.org).