Talks & Lectures
4 Dec 2019
Edwin A. Stevens Hall - EAS, Room 330

“Molecules-to-Materials” Approaches for Applications in Synthesis, Energy, and Green Chemistry

Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science

Ryan Guterman

Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Colloids Department, Am Mühlenberg 1 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany


The chemistry of ionic liquids (ILs) over the past 20 years has expanded beyond a mere curiosity and is now a research frontier that includes chemists, engineers, and material scientists. The unique aspect of ILs is their versatility and ability to be custom tailored to suit a vast number of purposes. The Guterman Group is inspired by the unprecedented chemistry of novel ILs, their ability to form N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), and complex with small-molecules and p-block elements. Our goal is to expand synthetically curious small-molecules beyond the round-bottom flask to tackle industrially relevant problems while pushing limits in fundamental chemistry. In this talk I will demonstrate in detail how we start from a foundation in molecular chemistry and move towards material science and finally to solve real-world problems. In specific, three topics will be presented including i) the use of NHC-stabilized cations as a new class of alkylating reagents, ii) biocomposites derived from ionic liquid lignin and iii) novel battery binders for lithium-sulphur batteries. The ability to apply small-molecule chemistry towards these disparate fields demonstrates the robustness of our “molecules-to-materials” methodology and provides us with the flexibility and focus needed to solve pressing technological challenges.


Dr. Ryan Guterman is a Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPIKG; Potsdam, Germany). He received his BSc (2010) and PhD (2015) from Western University (London Ontario, Canada) before moving to Germany late 2015. His research straddles the fields of synthesis, fundamental chemistry, materials chemistry, and polymer science and seeks to combine them in new ways to spur discovery. During his PhD he worked with Prof. Elizabeth Gillies and Prof. Paul Ragogna to develop novel photopolymerization methods for a variety of different organophosphorus compounds including the primary phosphines, fluorinated ionic liquids, and others. Upon moving to MPIKG his focused shifted towards material science for applications in energy and green materials before founding his own research group in 2017. Since then he has continued his goal to amalgamate disparate fields of chemistry and has broadened his scope to develop novel alkylating reagents to tackle problems in synthesis, biochemistry, and beyond. Dr. Guterman also enjoys a plethora of music, eats both black and green olives, and is known to strum a guitar once in a blue moon.

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