Dr. Kevin Lam, Associate Professor at the University of Greenwich, tells us about his journey within electrosynthesis: from its beginnings as a niche discipline to the burgeoning field it is today.
When I started doing research in this field 10 years ago, my goal was to study something that had never been studied before. I thought electrosynthesis was an underutilized method of activating small organic molecules. Now, our work involves using electrochemistry and electrosynthesis to design new, green synthetic methodologies for the chemical industry. We are also using electrosynthesis to generate highly active organometallic drugs.
I am a very curious person and mixing two fields together, electrochemistry and organic chemistry, has really helped to broaden my horizons.
Our group has developed several new electrosynthetic methodologies over the years and some of them have found uses in industry. Using electrosynthesis is usually a green and safe alternative to more classical synthetic methodologies. In organic electrochemistry, we are using the electron itself as the reagent, which is probably the cheapest and the greenest reagent that exists!
There is a huge resurgence of interest in the field at the moment and I get to share my passion for electrosynthesis with a lot of newcomers. Our lab motto is that we electrolyze for pleasure and to satisfy our scientific curiosity. We are truly having fun and that will help us overcome any challenges we might face.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?
A: You need a very positive and curious mindset. My Ph.D. supervisor, Istvan Marko, who recently passed away, was an amazing source of inspiration. He told me that you have to be positive about everything and do research you like without caring about the trends.