Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Julio C. Alvarez


This thesis presents the results and discussion of the investigation of the effects of Brönsted bases on the kinetics and thermodynamics of two proton-coupled electron transfer processes: the mediated oxidation of glutathione and the electrochemical oxidation of hydroquinone. Proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) is the name given to reactions that involve the transfer of electron(s) accompanied by the exchange of proton(s). PCETs are found in many chemical and biological processes, some of current technological relevance such as the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells, which involves the transfer of four electrons and four protons (4e-, 4H+); or the splitting of water into protons (4H+), electrons (4e-) and oxygen (O2) efficiently achieved in photosynthesis. The study of PCET mechanisms is imperative to understanding biological processes as well as to developing more efficient technological applications. However, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the kinetic and thermodynamic performance of PCETs, and especially about the effect of different proton acceptors on the rate and mechanism of PCET reactions. This study aimed to investigate the effect of Brönsted bases as proton acceptors on the kinetics and thermodynamics of two model PCET processes, the oxidation of glutathione and hydroquinone. The analysis presented in this thesis provides insight into the influence of different proton acceptors on the mechanism of PCET and it does so by studying these reactions from a different angle, that one of the acid-base catalysis theory which has been successfully applied to the investigation of numerous chemical reactions coupled to proton transfer. We hope future research of PCETs can benefit from the knowledge of acid-base catalysis to better understand these reactions at a molecular level.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2012

Included in

Chemistry Commons