Electrochemical Reduction of Nitro Groups: From Bioanalysis to Lightweight High-Energy Density Cathodic Materials for Lithium Batteries

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Derivatization of amino acids and aliphatic amines with suitable reagents enhances the separation and detection using liquid chromatography. Sanger's reagent (1-fluoro-2,4-dinitrobenzene, DNFB) makes amino acids and amines suitable for absorbance detection but little has been done using liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection (LC-EC). Electrochemical investigation of nitrobenzene (NB) demonstrated that NB is reduced to phenylhydroxylamine (PHA) by addition of four electrons and four protons. PHA can be reversibly oxidized into nitrosobenzene by removal of two electrons and two protons. LC-EC analysis of derivatized amino acids with Sanger's Reagent was achieved via in-series dual electrode detection preceded by coulometric conversion. The coulometric cell converted the nitro groups to hydroxylamines and the dual electrode detection upstream and downstream electrodes oxidized the resultant hydroxylamines to nitroso groups and then back, respectively. The reduction of nitro-substituted aromatics has also been investigated as a route for new cathodic materials for lithium batteries. Our lab is studying a new Schiff Base polymeric material with a conductive backbone as cathodic materials for primary lithium batteries. The new conductive polymer with theoretical capacity of 4 times the energy density of LiCoO2 cathodes is based on nitro group reduction. We are also investigating quinone reduction in the presence of lithium cations for the development of new cathodic materials for secondary batteries. This project explores the field of lightweight organic cathodic materials with the potential to increase the energy density for lithium batteries.

First Advisor

Miles Koppang

Second Advisor

Haoran Sun

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