Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Donald R. Schreiber

Second Advisor

Dr. James Howell

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael J. Barcelona

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The interaction of the lignin precursor compound caffeic acid with copper(lI) in aqueous solution was studied. In the presence of a reducible transition metal, such as copper, caffeic acid undergoes oxidation. Oxygen was shown to play an important role in the reaction. The UV-visible data demonstrated that the conjugated double bond in the propenoic acid side chain of caffeic acid slowly disappeared during the reaction. The molecular weight experiments indicated that the product was a dimer. FTIR spectrum agreed with two possible dimer structures involving the side chain of caffeic acid. In addition, the reaction was shown to be reversible. When heated, the dimer dissociated back into monomer. A mechanism of this reaction has been proposed. We believed the oxidation of caffeic acid in the presence of copper(lI) may play an important role in the formation of humic substances in natural water.

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