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College of Arts & Sciences

Travis A. White

Travis White in lab with rainbow-colored laser

Assistant Professor

Chemistry & Biochemistry
Clippinger 392

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Ph.D., Virginia Tech

B.S., University of North Carolina at Charlotte


  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Photophysics and photochemistry of inorganic complexes
  • Photocatalytic H2O reduction to produce H2 fuel
  • Electrochemistry of redox-active complexes and catalysts
  • Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction to generate C1 feedstocks

The T. A. White laboratory utilizes photo- and redox-active transition metal complexes to drive thermodynamically and kinetically demanding reactions. Our approach is to design complexes with function-specific components capable of transforming stable, small molecules (e.g. H2O, CO2) into energy rich species for use as fuels and/or feedstock materials. Through the design, synthesis, and characterization of photo- and redox-active complexes, our goal is to better understand how the structural and electronic factors within molecular architectures and ligand frameworks affect the observed photocatalytic and/or electrocatalytic activity.  

Current projects include the following:

  • Visible light-driven water reduction using Cu(I) photosensitizers and Rh(III) water reduction catalysts
  • Structure-assisted electrocatalytic CO2 reduction using Re(I) catalysts with modified ligand architectures
  • Electron transfer between covalently coupled molecular components via electronically communicative or non-communicative bridging ligands

Research in the group is driven by fundamental principles embedded within inorganic chemistry, photochemistry, and electrochemistry. Students in the research group will learn inorganic synthesis and purification techniques and be exposed to physical methods such as electronic absorption, emission, IR, and NMR spectroscopies, electrochemistry, mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography.

Selected Publications

Neyhouse, B. J.; White, T. A.* Modifying the steric and electronic character within Re(I)-phenanthroline complexes for electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. Inorganica Chimica Acta 2018, 479, 49-57.

McCullough, B. J.; Neyhouse, B. J.; Schrage, B. R.; Reed, D. T.; Osinski, A. J.; Ziegler, C. J.; White, T. A.* Visible light-driven photosystems using heteroleptic Cu(I) photosensitizers and Rh(III) catalysts to produce H2. Inorganic Chemistry 2018, 57, 2865-2875.

Whittemore, T. J.; White, T. A.; Turro, C.* New ligand design provides delocalization and promotes strong absorption throughout the visible region in a Ru(II) complex. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018, 140, 229-234.

Whittemore, T. J.; Sayre, H. J.; Xue, C.; White, T. A.; Gallucci, J. C.; Turro, C.* New Rh2(II,II) complexes for solar energy applications: panchromatic absorption and excited-state reactivity. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2017, 139, 14724-14732.

Sayre, H. J.; White, T. A.; Brewer, K. J.* Increased photocatalytic activity in Ru(II),Rh(III) supramolecular bimetallic complexes with terminal ligand substitution. Inorganica Chimica Acta 2017, 454, 89-96.

Witt, S. E.; White, T. A.; Li, Z.; Dunbar, K. R.*; Turro, C.* Cationic dirhodium(II,II) complexes for the electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 to HCOOH. Chemical Communications 2016, 52, 12175-12178.

Johnson, B. A.; Maji, S.; Agarwala, H.; White, T. A.; Mijangos, E.; Ott, S.* Activating a low overpotential CO2 reduction mechanism by a strategic ligand modification on a ruthenium polypyridyl complex. Angewandte Chemie: International Edition 2016, 55, 1825-1829.

White, T. A.; Witt, S. E.; Li, Z.; Dunbar, K. R.*; Turro, C.* New Rh2(II,II) architecture for the catalytic reduction of H+. Inorganic Chemistry 2015, 54, 10042-10048.

White, T. A.; Maji, S.; Ott, S.* Mechanistic insights into electrocatalytic CO2 reduction within [RuII(tpy)(NN)X]n+ architectures. Dalton Transactions 2014, 43, 15028-15037.

White, T. A.; Mallalieu, H. E.; Wang, J.; Brewer, K. J.* Mechanistic insight into the electronic influences imposed by substituent variation in polyazine-bridged Ru(II),Rh(III) supramolecules. Chemistry – A European Journal 2014, 27, 8265-8268. Front cover of issue.

White, T. A.; Higgins, S. L. H.; Arachchige, S. M.; Brewer, K. J.* Efficient photocatalytic hydrogen production in a single-component system using Ru,Rh,Ru supramolecules containing 4,7-diphenyl-1,10-phenanthroline. Angewandte Chemie: International Edition 2011, 50, 12209-12213.

White, T. A.; Whitaker, B. N.; Brewer, K. J.* Discovering the balance of sterics and electronics needed to provide a new structural motif for photocatalytic hydrogen production from water. Journal of the American Chemical Society 2011, 133, 15332-15334.

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