Peter Sues

Dr. Peter Sues

Assistant Professor
location CBC 323
phone 785-532-6626 (office)
Research Themes

Functional Materials, Catalysis, and Nanochemistryblank spacerEnergy, Environment, Agriculture, and Sustainability
Theory, Computation, and Advance Analyticsblank spacerDesign and Synthesis of Molecules and Supramolecular Architectures

Lab Website Link phone 785-532-6651 (lab)


Assistant Professor
Postdoctoral Researcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry, University of Toronto
H.B.Sc. in Chemistry, University of Toronto

Research Overview

The growing drive to develop more economical and sustainable practices has become a major influence on modern chemists. However, many commercial processes continue to utilize catalysts based on platinum group metals, which are expensive, toxic, and of increasingly limited supply. In our group, we use inorganic and organometallic chemistry, supported by theoretical computations, to develop inexpensive and sustainable catalysts for various chemical transformations. Our research interests can be separated into two main fields.
One area that we explore is the efficient and selective formation of carbon-carbon bonds through olefin metathesis. Traditional olefin metathesis catalysts developed by the Schrock and Grubbs groups utilize group VI metals (tungsten and molybdenum) and ruthenium, respectively. Our group focuses on developing olefin metathesis catalysts that exhibit the best characteristics of both of these systems; high activity and selectivity, as well as functional group tolerance, while also utilizing sustainable earth-abundant metals.
Another area that we investigate is the catalytic activation of small molecules, which is crucial for the future of sustainable energy. The reactivity of two of the most abundant gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen, are of particular interest. The reduction of oxygen and the oxidation of ammonia have potential applications in fuel cells, whereas the oxidation of water and the reduction of nitrogen are important for energy storage. These transformations, however, are exceedingly difficult. Fortunately, we can take inspiration from nature, where naturally occurring enzymes are capable of catalyzing these reactions using base metals. As such, we adapt key concepts from biological systems in order to develop sustainable artificial catalysts that exploit economical and abundant metals.

Selected publications

  • Trowbridge, L.; Averkiev, B.; Sues, P. E. Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution using a Nickel-based Calixpyrrole Complex: Controlling the Secondary Coordination Sphere on an Electrode Surface.Chemistry - A European Journal 2023, Accepted. DOI: 10.1002/chem.202301920.
  • Saha, S.; Averkiev, B.; Sues, P. E. Ruthenium Phosphinimine Complex as a Fast-Initiating Olefin Metathesis Catalyst with Competing Catalytic Cycles. Organometallics 2022, 41, 2879-2890.
  • Trowbridge, L.; Averkiev, B.; Sues, P. E. Palladium Complexes Bearing Calixpyrrole Ligands with Pendant Hydrogen Bond Donors: Synthesis, Structural Characterization, Electrochemistry and Dihydrogen Evolution. Polyhedron 2022, 225, 116046.
  • Cooper, E. N., Averkiev, B., Day, V. W., Sues, P. E. Ring-Opening Polymerization of ε-Caprolactone Utilizing Aluminum Alkyl Complexes Bearing Dianionic Scorpionate Ligands. Organometallics 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acs.organomet.1c00400.
  • § Sonnenberg, J. F., § Wan, K. Y., § Sues, P. E., and Morris, R. H. Ketone Asymmetric Hydrogenation Catalyzed by P-NH-P’ Pincer Iron Catalysts: an Experimental and Computational Study. ACS Catal. 2017, 7, 316-326. § All authors contributed equally.