The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Faculty Profile

Bruce E. Bursten

Distinguished Professor

418 Buehler Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-1600
Education & Honors:
B.S., University of Chicago (1974)
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (1978)

Dr. Bursten is a former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Knoxville Campus and is a former president of the American Chemical Society.

My students, my collaborators, and I are currently investigating a number of fascinating problems in inorganic and organometallic chemistry. Each of these fits into the general theme of our research: the correlation of theoretical and experimental electronic structural data with the bonding and reactivity patterns of transition metal complexes. We use electronic structure theory, spectroscopy, photochemistry, and preparative chemistry as probes of the bonding in and energetics of the systems. Some of the areas that are currently under investigation include the following:

  • Spectroscopic, photochemical, and density functional studies of dinuclear organometallic complexes. This large class of compounds shows a wide range of reaction photochemistry, and we have used our techniques to increase the understanding of why this is so.
  • The electronic structure of organometallic and coordination complexes of the actinide and transactinide elements. Some of these, especially those containing thorium and uranium, exhibit a remarkably rich and versatile chemistry with respect to the addition of small organic and inorganic molecules. We have devised a general description of the bonding in these systems that has been widely accepted by the synthetic community.
  • The structure, bonding, and exploratory chemistry of early transition metal organometallic complexes, particularly those containing multiple cyclopentadienyl ligands. These compounds have relevance to many homogeneous catalytic processes. We are using electronic structure calculations on these systems to facilitate the "tuning" of their properties and reactivity.
  • Theoretical studies of metal-metal multiple bonds. Compounds containing metal-metal triple and quadruple bonds have provided a wealth of chemical and physical data and they pose a great challenge to current bonding theories.
Biographical Sketch:

Dr. Bursten received his S.B. degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1974; he earned a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1978. He then undertook postdoctoral work in chemistry as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University. He was a member of the chemistry faculty at Ohio State University before moving in 2005 to the University of Tennessee, where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for almost 6 years. In 2001, he chaired the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry.

Representative Publications:

On The Electronic Structure of Molecular UO2 in the Presence of Ar Atoms: Evidence for Direct U-Ar Bonding. J. Li, B.E. Bursten, L. Andrews, and C.J. Marsden, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 3424 (2004).

Robust Bonds between Uranium and Noble Gas Atoms: Coordination of the UO2+ Cation by Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe Atoms. W. Wang, L. Andrews, J. Li, and B. E. Bursten, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 43, 2554 (2004).

Theoretical Studies of 18-Electron M(CnHn)(C10-nH10-n) (M = Fe, Ru, Os; n = 3, 4, 5) Sandwich Complexes. C.M. Brett and B.E. Bursten, Polyhedron 23, 2993 (2004).

Reactions of Laser-Ablated Uranium Atoms with H2O in Excess Argon: A Matrix Infrared and Relativistic DFT Investigation of Novel Uranium Oxyhydrides. B. Liang, R.D. Hunt, G.P. Kushko, L. Andrews, J. Li, and B.E. Bursten, Inorg. Chem. 44, 2159 (2005).

Theoretical Investigations of Uranyl Ligand Bonding: Four- and Five-Coordinate Uranyl Cyanide, Isocyanide, Carbonyl, and Hydroxide Complexes. J.L. Sonnenberg, P.J. Hay, R.L. Martin, and B.E. Bursten, Inorg. Chem. 44, 2255 (2005).

Oxalate Bridged Dinuclear M2 Units: Dimers of Dimers, Cyclotetramers (Squares), and Extended Sheets (M = Mo, W, Tc, Ru, and Rh). B.E. Bursten, M.H. Chisholm, and J.S. D'Acchioli, Inorg. Chem. 44, 5571 (2005).

Theoretical Investigation of Uranyl Dihydroxide: Oxo Ligand Exchange, Water Catalysis, and Vibrational Spectra. H.P. Hratchian, J.L. Sonnenberg, P.J. Hay, R.L. Martin, B.E. Bursten, and H.B. Schlegel, J. Phys. Chem. A 109, 8579 (2005).


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