Honors Program

Honors in Chemistry

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Jeffrey Wardeska

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Ningfeng Zhao, Marina Roginskaya


Copper(II) complexes of Schiff bases can be used in the catalysis of hydrogen peroxide to create water and oxygen. The mechanism and the kinetics of this disproportionation reaction by a dimeric copper(II) complex [CuSALAD]2 are studied in this experiment, where SALAD refers to a Schiff Base ligand formed from salicyaldehyde and 1S,2S-D(+)-1-phenyl-2-amino-1,3-propanediol. By using cyclic voltammetry, the oxidation-reduction processes of a reaction may be monitored. The [CuSALAD]­2 is initially reacted with a base such as imidazole to form the catalytic species, and the ratio of the copper(II) complex to the imidazole was found to be 1:4, consistent with previous electron absorption (UV-Vis) spectroscopy experiments. The reduction and oxidation half waves of the copper(II) catalyst are followed via cyclic voltammetry to determine if the copper(II) center undergoes reduction to copper(I) during the hydrogen peroxide catalysis. It appears that while the major oxidation and reduction half wave potentials, E1/2=6.51x10-2V, are unchanged during the decomposition, an additional oxidation wave (E1/2=1.43x10-1V) is observed in the absence of oxygen, suggesting some portion of the copper is reduced. With this information, a mechanism was proposed having copper as a catalyst and creating an intermediate that would form the water and the elemental oxygen.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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