Awards & Achievements
Young Researcher of the Year
2004 Recipient - Deryn Fogg
Professor Fogg’s work focuses on the molecular structure of catalysts, key agents that promote the interaction of other chemicals. These interactions can be of fundamental commercial significance, with catalysts playing a critical role in the production of everything from textiles to electronic components. By analysing the specific mechanisms that define catalytic performance, Professor Fogg is showing how that performance could be enhanced.
Catalysts drive some $1 trillion worth of industrial activity around the world every year. At that level, even the most modest improvement in the characteristics of such agents could yield huge returns. In addition, it could well be possible to improve some catalysts to the point of turning a currently impractical process into commercially viable means of manufacturing a new product.
Catapulting Catalytic Capabilities
Having mastered a new generation of laboratory instruments and molecular modelling software, Professor Fogg has cultivated an intimate view of catalysts. She has been able to map out the microscopic pathways that determine their unique chemical qualities, as well as exploring the changes that could come from altering those pathways.
In one outstanding instance, she has discovered just how significant those changes can be. Ruthenium, an expensive catalyst that establishes the carbon-metal bonds necessary to produce products ranging from perfumes to television screens, has posed the problem of remaining active for only a very limited period. After about a dozen uses, its catalytic capabilities are gone. By altering the physical arrangement of the ruthenium molecular, however, Professor Fogg has been able to extend ruthenium’s activity from a dozen cycles to more than 40,000. This achievement has already captured the attention of industrial observers from around the world.
Professor Fogg is also unravelling the complex dynamics of how catalysts lay down chemical substrates, a subject of increasing importance to both scientists and engineers. She is using new mass spectrographic techniques to analyse organic metallic molecules that must be studied in a vacuum. And, in one of her latest research ventures, she has joined a team working on tissue engineering, using polymers to build up the mechanical strength and flexibility of cells that are forming laboratory-grown corneas.