Lab Fellow, Chemist, Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis
Lab Fellow, Chemist, Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis

Morris Bullock is the Director of the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center. He is a Laboratory Fellow in the Physical Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. From 1985-2006, he was in the Chemistry Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Long Island, New York).

Research Interests

  • Research in the Center for Molecular Electrocatalysis focuses on the development of molecular transition metal electrocatalysts for multi-proton, multi-electron reactions that are needed for a secure energy future. Our research seeks to understand how proton relays can regulate the movement of protons and electrons to enhance the rates of electrocatalysts. Proton relays are typically pendant amines in the second coordination sphere of the metal catalyst. The focus of our studies are on catalysts for oxidation of hydrogen and production of hydrogen through reduction of protons. New studies focus on approaches to reduction of nitrogen to ammonia.
  • Research interests include synthetic, kinetic, and mechanistic aspects of transition metal organometallic complexes and their use as homogeneous catalysts. Much of his work focuses on the reactivity of metal hydrides, and the factors that influence the cleavage of the M-H bond as a proton, a hydride, or a hydrogen atom.
  • He and his co-workers have been interested for many years in the development of catalysts based on abundant, inexpensive metals as alternatives to the widespread use of precious metals ("Cheap Metals for Noble Tasks"). They have developed homogeneous hydrogenation catalysts that are based on molybdenum or tungsten. These catalysts function through an ionic hydrogenation mechanism, in which H2 is added to the C=O bond of a ketone by H+transfer from a cationic dihydride complex, followed by H- transfer from a neutral metal hydride. Related interests include development of new catalysts for hydrosilylation, use of alternative resources as feedstock, and readily recyclable catalysts.
  • In addition to these studies that focus on heterolytic bond cleavage pathways (proton and hydride transfers), studies are also being carried out on fundamental aspects of homolytic bond cleavage reactions. While metal-to-carbon hydrogen atom transfers are well-known, few studies have focused on the opposite reaction, carbon-to-metal hydrogen atom transfer. We have discovered examples in which such reactions can be directly observed by time-resolved infrared spectroscopy. Our studies seek to address fundamental questions about the thermodynamics and kinetics of these reactions.

Education and Credentials

  • B.S., Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1979
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1984 (Chuck Casey's group)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate with Prof. Jack Norton at Colorado State University (1984-1985)

Awards and Recognitions

  • Member of the Editorial Advisory Board (2005-2007) for the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board (2000-2002) for the American Chemical Society journal Organometallics.
  • Chairman of the Gordon Conference on Organometallic Chemistry in 2003. Organizer of two symposia at American Chemical Society meetings.
  • Received the Science and Technology Award in 2002 from Brookhaven Science Associates.
  • Editor of Catalysis Without Precious Metals, 2010.
  • American Chemical Society Fellow, 2012
  • Royal Society of Chemistry Homogeneous Catalysis Award, 2013
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013
  • 2015 ACS Catalysis Lectureship for the Advancement of Catalytic Science, (shared honor with Daniel DuBois and the PNNL Hydrogen Catalysis Team)