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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Past Events

Find out about some of the previous events held by Durham Energy Institute:

DEI-IAS Public Lecture: Can the same molecule cure cancer and solve the energy crisis

17th May 2011, 18:15 to 19:45, Ken Wade Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre, Durham University, Science Site, Durham DH1 3LE, Professor Randy Thummel, John and Rebecca Moores Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Houston

Probably no...but the prospect is intriguing. In this lecture, Professor Randy Thummel will give a general overview of how  metal containing molecules, such as ruthenium polypyridine complexes,  are currently being explored as a way to utilise the energy of sunlight, and also the potential of these complexes to improve drug treatments used to fight cancer. 

Upon the absorption of light, the dark coloured complexes provide an excited state that contains energy that can be used to help carry out many useful processes.  For example, with regard to using sunlight as a source of energy, ruthenium complexes are among the more promising photocatalysts.  These complexes can be used to catalyze the oxidation of water, which is an integral and challenging component of artificial photosynthesis (chemicals acting like plants) and may be adapted to provide hydrogen from water, enabling us to tap a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.  Alternatively, the excited state of ruthenium complexes can initiate a key step in the operation of a new generation of solar cells that are designed to convert sunlight directly into electricity. 

With regard to the destruction of tumours caused by cancer, photoexcited ruthenium complexes can sensitize the conversion of the 'normal' triplet form of oxygen in which the highest lying electrons have parallel spins into highly reactive singlet (or spin opposed) oxygen. When generated in a tumour cell, this high energy form of oxygen rapidly leads to cell death.   Being able to target ruthenium drugs to the tumor and then specifically activate them with light is the basis of photodynamic therapy, and is beginning to find application in cancer treatments.

Randolph Thummel is John and Rebecca Moores Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Houston.

The lecture will be chaired by Professor Richard Davies, Director of Durham Energy Institute.

This public event is free and open to all, but registration is essential.  To register, please follow link below to the online registration form.

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