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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Chemist Baik earns prestigious award to study water as alternative energy source

March 6, 2007

Mu-Hyun Baik

Chemist Mu-Hyun Baik

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington chemist Mu-Hyun Baik has been awarded a special early career grant by the National Science Foundation to investigate the conversion of inert water to O(2) and H(2).

The $555,000 Faculty Early Career Program award to Baik was sponsored by NSF's Inorganic, Bioinorganic and Organometallic Chemistry Program.

Baik has been studying the catalytic properties of a large molecule with two rare metal ruthenium atoms at its center. Under fairly ordinary conditions, the "ruthenium complex" is capable of converting water to oxygen and hydrogen. Hypothetically, the reaction could produce enough molecular oxygen and hydrogen to drive engines and other machines, even artificial photosynthesis. While the goal of technical utilization is years if not decades from becoming a reality, the fundamental studies in the Baik research laboratory are crucial steps towards solving the inevitable energy crisis in the future.

"Currently, only very few catalysts are known that are capable of promoting this demanding reaction under mild conditions," said Baik, an assistant professor of chemistry. "Yet the technical utilization of these catalytic systems is highly desirable because they may help us contribute sustainable, non-fossil fuel energy sources."

Baik is IUB Chemistry's third CAREER awardee in three years. In 2005, Daniel Mindiola received the honor and Dongwhan Lee was given this prestigious award in 2006.

To speak with Baik, please contact David Bricker, IU Media Relations, at 812-856-9035 or