School of Physical and Chemical Sciences -Te Kura Matū Seminar Series

Mass spectrometry of pyrophoric compounds: solving a flaming difficult problem in catalyst activation


Professor Scott McIndoe


Erskine visitor with the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, from the Chemistry Department, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Time & Place

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 12:00:00 NZDT in West Room 531

All are welcome


Methylaluminoxane (MAO) is made by (careful!) partial hydrolysis of trimethylaluminium. The resulting product is an oligomeric mixture of approximate formula Me1.5AlO0.7, but it has defied detailed characterization ever since its discovery in the 1970s. It is a very useful “black box”, as it is a potent activator for single-site olefin polymerization catalysts. In activating these catalysts, both the activator and catalyst become charged, and are therefore amenable to analysis by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS). This talk will detail the McIndoe group’s efforts over the past 5 years to characterize this system, including identification of the active ingredient.​


Scott McIndoe (2018 Erskine Fellow) is a chemistry professor at the University of Victoria, BC, Canada. He spent 4 months of his 2016/7 sabbatical at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop in San Francisco, home to an amazing array of modern manufacturing tools: waterjets, laser cutters, 3D printers and more. Find out about the largely science-inspired things he made while he was an Artist in Residence there, including a 3D periodic table, a solar analemma chandelier, a black hole table and a laser sword.