Trevor Hayton

Vice Chair Graduate Student Affairs

Office Hours

Monday (4pm-5pm Chem 3225) Chem173A
Tuesday (4pm-5pm Chem 3225) Chem290
By Appointment

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3392

Office Location

Chem 3225



2003, Ph.D. in Chemistry

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia (Research Advisor: Peter Legzdins)

1998, B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biology, Combined Honours

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia


Dr. Hayton started his graduate studies in 1998 under the direction of Peter Legzdins at the University of British Columbia. After completing his Ph. D. in 2003 he began a postdoctoral position at Los Alamos National Laboratory with James Boncella. He joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB in 2006. In 2010 he was awarded a Sloan Fellowship.  In 2014 he was promoted to Full Professor.


Research Group Website:

Research Objective

Overview. Our research involves the synthesis and characterization of new inorganic and organometallic complexes and materials. One goal of this work is to improve our understanding of the structure and bonding in both transition metal and actinide systems. But we are also trying to discover new organic transformations mediated by metal centers.

Bioinorganic chemistry. Part of our research program focuses on the fundamental coordination chemistry of high oxidation state transition metal ions, in particular iron(IV) and manganese(IV). Interest in these ions is driven by their intermediacy in several biorelevant transformations. However, the fundamental coordination chemistry of these ions remains relatively unexplored, in part because their highly oxidizing nature greatly complicates their study. To address this problem we have endeavored to find other ligand sets which can better stabilize the 4+ state, and we are exploring the use of alkoxide, amide, alkyl and ketimide ligands for this purpose. Building on this work, we are exploring the reactivity of these unusual molecules, with the goal of finding transformations of practical significance.

Actinide organometallics. We are also exploring the organometallic chemistry of uranium and the other actinides. Knowledge gained in this area will help improve the nuclear fuel cycle and the treatment of nuclear waste, both areas of national concern. In particular, we are exploring methods of functionalizing the oxo ligand of the uranyl ion (UO22+), a moiety known for its incredible stability. Chemically modifying UO22+ is relevant to the treatment of nuclear waste and understanding the interactions of bacteria with the actinides. It also represents an opportunity to uncover novel metal-oxo reactivity with potential applications in catalysis. Building on our initial results in this area, we are developing model complexes to mimic microbial-actinide interactions which will provide insight into the biogeochemistry of the actinides and the global actinide cycle. By studying the structure and properties of these complexes we hope to suggest new methods for decontamination and waste treatment.

Bottom-up Assembly of Nanomaterials.  Atomically precise, noble metal nanoclusters (NCs) smaller than ~2 nm in diameter are an emerging area of nanoscience. NCs are currently of intense fundamental interest for their unique electronic properties, and have considerable practical appeal due to their potential use in nanoparticle-based devices that require precise control of structure at the atomic level. Their novel optical properties, in particular, make them attractive as components for high resolution displays, sensing, and photo-controlled drug delivery. We have been exploring routes to systematically control composition and morphology of well-defined, mono-disperse copper NCs and superatoms. We are particularly interested in studying copper because it an earth abundant first row metal, and copper nanoparticles have been shown to be active towards CO2 reduction and other catalytic transformations. These results will guide the methodology needed for the rational syntheses of nanomaterials using elements from across the periodic table. The use of a variety of spectroscopic techniques, including X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, and XAS, in conjunction with kinetic and reactivity studies, yield unique insights into the structure-function relationships present in nanomaterials.

Global Nitrogen Cycle. The reduction of nitric oxide (NO) to nitrous oxide (N2O) by nitric oxide reductase (NOR) is an important component of the global nitrogen cycle; however, the mechanism of reduction is not well understood.  Here, synthetic chemistry can play an important role. We recently synthesized a unique Nickel(II) nitroxyl complex, [Ni(bipy)2(NO)][PF6], which may help in our understanding of NOR. On standing in acetonitrile, this complex furnishes the NO coupled product, [Ni(?2-O2N2)(bipy)], in moderate yield. Subsequent addition of 2 equiv of acetylacetone (H(acac)) to [Ni(?2-O2N2)(bipy)] results in formation of [Ni(acac)2(bipy)], N2O and H2O. Preliminary mechanistic studies suggest that the N–N bond in [Ni(?2-O2N2)(bipy)] is formed via a bimetallic coupling reaction of two nitroxyl (NO) ligands, a finding which may have implications on our understanding of nitric oxide reductase.


Selected Publications

Cook, A. W.; Hayton, T. W.* Case Studies in Nanocluster Synthesis and Characterization: Challenges and Opportunities. Acc. Chem. Res., 2018, 51, 2456–2464.

Hartmann, N. J.; Wu, G.; Hayton, T. W.* Synthesis and reactivity of a nickel(II) thioperoxide complex: demonstration of sulfide-mediated N2O reduction. Chem. Sci., 2018, 9, 6580-6588.

Cook, A. W.; Jones, Z. R.; Wu, G.; Scott, S. L.*; Hayton, T. W.* An Organometallic Cu20 Nanocluster: Synthesis, Characterization, Immobilization on Silica, and “Click” Chemistry. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2018, 140, 394-400.

Cook A. W., Wu G., Hayton T. W.*  A Re-examination of the Synthesis of Monolayer-Protected Cox(SCH2CH2Ph)m Nanoclusters: Unexpected Formation of a Thiolate-Protected Co(II) T3 Supertetrahedron. Inorg. Chem., 2018, 57, 8189–8194.

Hayton, T. W.* Understanding the origins of Oyl–U–Oyl bending in the uranyl (UO22+) ion. Dalton Trans., 2018, 47, 1003-1009.

Assefa, M. K.; Wu, G.; Hayton, T. W.* Synthesis of a terminal Ce(IV) oxo complex by photolysis of a Ce(III) nitrate complex. Chem. Sci. 2017, 8, 7873-7878.

Smiles, D. E.; Wu, G.; Hrobárik, P.*; Hayton, T.W.* Synthesis, Thermochemistry, Bonding, and 13C NMR Chemical Shift Analysis of a Phosphorano-Stabilized Carbene of Thorium.  Organometallics 2017, 36, 4519-4524.