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WEBSTER, Richard D.

Associate Professor

Education: B.Sc., University of Auckland; B.Sc. (Hon.), Ph.D., La Trobe University, Post-docs: Oxford, ANU

Research Area: Analytical Chemistry and Electrochemistry

Other Interests: Chemical Spectroscopy
Atmospheric Chemistry

Phone: (65) 6316 8793

E-mail: webster@ntu.edu.sg

Webpage: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/webster/home.html

Research Interest

The research in the analytical chemistry group follows two main themes. One area is the electrochemical behavior of small organic and inorganic molecules; especially those involved in biological redox processes, such as vitamins and coenzymes (see reactions below for vitamin E). The group is currently developing methods for initiating and studying electrochemical reactions that occur within artificial lipid bilayer membranes. The aim of the research is to develop electrochemical sensors that can be used for monitoring biological reactions in vivo. The research covers many areas of chemistry including analytical, physical, biological and synthetic (organic and inorganic).

The second area of research is in atmospheric chemistry. The group is interested in monitoring atmospheric pollutants and in establishing procedures for optimising the detection of toxic materials present in the atmosphere and natural water samples. The pollutants are released during slash-and-burn deforestation in neighbouring Indonesia and from local heavy industries in Singapore. The group has established outside testing stations for collecting particulate material that is analysed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy. Gaseous samples are collected using thermal desorption tubes and analysed with gas chromatography.


Electrochemically induced transformations of a-tocopherol (vitamin E) in dry organic solvents.  One resonance structure is displayed for each compound.

Selected Publications

  1. Hui, Y.; Chng, E. L. K.; Chng, C. Y. L.; Poh, H. L.; Webster, R. D. Hydrogen Bonding Interactions between Water and the One- and Two-Electron Reduced forms of Vitamin K1: Applying Quinone Electrochemistry to Determine the Moisture Content of Non-Aqueous Solvents. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131(4), 1523–1534, (2009).

  2. Yao, W. W.; Peng, H. M.; Webster, R. D.; Gill, P. M. W. Variable Scan Rate Cyclic Voltammetry and Theoretical Studies on Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Model Compounds. J. Phys. Chem. B, 112(22), 6847–6855, (2008).

  3. Webster, R. D. New Insights into the Oxidative Electrochemistry of Vitamin E. Acc. Chem. Res. 40(4), 251257, (2007).

  4. Lee, S. B.; Willis, A. C.; Webster, R. D. Synthesis of the Phenoxonium Cation of an a-Tocopherol Model Compound Crystallized With Non-Nucleophilic [B(C6F5)4] and (CB11H6Br6) Anions. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128(29), 9332–9333, (2006).