Publication Date

Summer 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Les Pesterfield (Director), Dr. Kevin Williams, and Dr. Darwin Dahl

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


Mechanochemistry utilizes mechanical energy to promote chemical reactions to completion. Samples ground with a ball mill are placed under consistent pressure and temperature, which allows for increased surface area, shorter reaction times and overall better control of reaction conditions compared to the use of a mortar and pestle. Many synthetic techniques to prepare metal coordination compounds use a solvent. The solvent promotes the reactions by providing a route for reagents to interact. While solvents facilitate reactions, there is interest in reducing or eliminating solvents altogether during the synthesis process due to potential instability of a solvent under certain experimental conditions and costs. Solvents can also hinder the isolation of the final product due to issues of solubility; and solvent coordination to the metal ion resulting in the solvent needing to be removed.

Additionally, eliminating solvents can minimize safety concerns. This so-called “green chemistry” approach to synthesis involves the development of a solvent-free method which creates less waste, more economically and environmentally friendly. The research investigated the use of a solvent-free methodology employing a ball mill to synthesize metal coordination compounds using organic chelating agents, including EDTA, DTPA, 1,10-Phenanthroline and Bipyridyl with metal cations of interest including Cobalt(II), Nickel(II), Copper(II), and Iron(III). Additionally, the research investigated the role reagent parameters (e.g. type of metal salt to ligand ratio, rigidity of chelating agent, hydrate salts vs anhydrous salts, etc.) play in the synthesis of metal coordination complexes. Analysis of the complexes included solid state infrared spectroscopy, coupled with elemental analysis to characterize products formed from reactions under ball mill synthesis.


Inorganic Chemistry