Fraser Armstrong’s interests are in biological redox chemistry and its application and inspiration for future technologies.
His group has developed a suite of methods called ‘Protein Film Electrochemistry’ that provide unique insight into complex electron-transfer reactions occurring in enzymes and other proteins. He has pioneered the idea that many enzymes behave as reversible electrocatalysts (a property that is otherwise almost exclusive to platinum metals) when attached to an electrode, introducing a new way of measuring enzyme efficiency in terms of ‘over-potential requirement’. These efforts are inspiring the design of optimal electrocatalysts, not least by demonstrating that almost-perfect catalysts do exist. Comparisons between enzymes (reversible) and small-molecule electrocatalysts (generally irreversible) highlight the crucial role of the second and outer coordination shells and the formidable challenge confronting synthetic chemists. His research into the mechanisms of hydrogenases has led to important new insight into hydrogen activation, oxygen tolerance and cofactor assembly. Another instructive approach has been the design and testing of ‘demonstration toys’ in which enzymes operate as electrocatalysts in hybrid solar fuel cells and fuel cells. Most recently, his group’s invention of the ‘electrochemical leaf’ has opened up a new route into exploiting enzyme catalysis for organic synthesis.
Bailar Medal of the University of Illinois, 2015
Swift Lectureship of the California Institute of Technology, 2014
Davy Medal of the Royal Society, 2012
Joseph Chatt Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, 2010
Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), 2008
Weller, Overton, Rourke, and Armstrong. Inorganic Chemistry. Oxford University Press, 7th edition (2018).
Siritanaratkul, B., C. F. Megarity, T. G. Roberts, T. O. M. Samuels, M. Winkler, J. H. Warner, T. Happe and F. A. Armstrong. "Transfer of Photosynthetic NADP+/NADPH Recycling Activity to a Porous Metal Oxide for Highly Specific, Electrochemically-driven Organic Synthesis." Chemical Science 8, (2017): 4579 - 4586.
Evans, R.M., E. J. Brooke, S. A. M. Wehlin, E. Nomerotskaia, F. Sargent, S. B. Carr, S. E. V. Phillips and F. A Armstrong. "Mechanism of Hydrogen Activation by [NiFe]-hydrogenases." Nature Chem. Biol. 12, (2016): 46-50.
Woolerton, T. W., S. Sheard, Y. S. Chaudhary and F. A. Armstrong. "Enzymes and bio-inspired Electrocatalysts in Solar Fuel Devices." EnergyEnviron. Science 5, (2012): 7470 - 7490(2012).
Armstrong, F.A. and J. Hirst. "Reversibility and Efficiency in Electrocatalytic Energy Conversion and Lessons from Enzymes." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108 (2011): 14049-14054.