An expansive approach to making new compounds

While most chemistry labs focus on either organic (carbon-containing) or inorganic (metal-containing) molecules, Robert Gilliard’s lab takes a more expansive approach.

On any given day in his lab, researchers may be synthesizing new materials that can light up or change color in response to temperature changes, designing new molecules that activate chemical bonds, or finding new ways to make useful compounds out of carbon dioxide. Mixing different approaches and drawing from a variety of areas of expertise is the defining feature of his lab’s style of chemistry.

“At the core of our program, we are a chemical synthesis lab. We make molecules,” Gilliard says. “I have students that are in the organic division and students that are in the inorganic division, and we combine concepts from both worlds. We really can’t do our chemistry without both.”

Some of the molecules his lab creates require such specialized laboratory skills that very few other labs even try…
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