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David C. Lacy

Assistant Professor
Office: 657 Natural Sciences Complex
Phone: (716) 645-4114
Fax: (716) 645-6963
E-mail: DCLacy at buffalo edu
Lab website:

Education and Training:

B.S., Colorado State University, CO (2007)
Ph.D., University of California-Irvine, CA (2012)
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, California Institute of Technology, CA (2012 – 2015)


Organometallic Chemistry
Bioinorganic Chemistry

Research Summary:

Organometallic Photochemistry – Molecular approaches to solar fuels

We are primarily interested in discovering new methods of storing the energy of photons (solar energy) by carrying out direct photoconversion reactions. For example, a direct solar photoconversion of great interest to society is the production of H2 from water, a process often referred to as water splitting. Our strategy uses molecular compounds that differ somewhat from the traditional approach. That is, we use single-site organometallic complexes to (1) absorb light, (2) reduce water to H2, and (3) oxidize water to H2O2 or O2. Most strategies utilize separated multi component systems where different compounds (or surfaces) carry out each of the mentioned steps to photochemical water splitting. The advantage of using single-site organometallic compounds to split water is that no sacrificial donor is needed. Furthermore, the molecular nature of the catalyst provides an opportunity to probe the elementary reactions of direct photoconversion in ways that are not possible with solid-state catalysts. Synergistic efforts in the Lacy lab include exploration of other light-driven bond forming/breaking reactions and their mechanisms (e.g., dehydrogenation of alkanes). For these investigations we are developing new ligands for organometallic manganese catalysts and exploring their coordination chemistry, catalysis, and photochemical properties.

Bioinorganic Chemistry – Primary coordination effects in O2 activation of enzyme model complexes

Many processes in biology involve the oxidation of organic molecules at iron and manganese enzyme active sites. Such processes often require molecular oxygen (O2) and serve as inspiration for new methods of using this generously abundant resource to perform synthetic oxidations with earth abundant catalysts. The enzymes that carry out these types of reactions have incredibly diverse coordination environments, and therefore understanding the role of primary coordination is challenging. Our approach to obtain understanding into the effects of primary coordination is to systematically alter the coordination environment of synthetic model complexes through ligand design and observe the effect these changes have on spectroscopic properties and reactivities by means of linear free energy relationships and relate our findings to the biologically relevant metalloenzymes.

Selected Publications:

  1. Surendhran, R.; D’Arpino, A. A.;Bao, Y. S.; Cannella, A. F.; MacMillan, S. N.; Lacy,* D. C. Deciphering the Mechanism of O2 Reduction with Electronically Tunable Non-Heme Iron Enzyme Model Complexes Accepted Sci. 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8SC01621F!divAbstract
  2. Cannella, A. F.; Dey, S. K.; MacMillan, S. M.; Lacy,* D. C. Structural Diversity in Pyridine and Polypyridine Adducts of Ring Slipped Manganocene: Correlating Ligand Steric Bulk with a Quantified Non-Ideal Hapticity Parameter. Dalton Trans. 2018, 47, 5171 – 5180. Cover article.!divAbstract
  3. Kadassery, K. J.; Dey, S. K.; Cannella, A. F.; Surendhran,§ R.; Lacy,* D. C. Photochemical Water-Splitting with Organomanganese Complexes. Inorg. Chem. (2017), 56, 9954–9965.
  4. Kadassery, K. J.; Dey, S. K.; Friedman, A. E.; Lacy,* D. C. Exploring the Role of Carbonate in the Formation of an Organomanganese Tetramer. Chem. (2017), 56, 8748-8751.
    § Undergraduate author; * corresponding authors