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Chemistry Guest Seminars

Inorganic Seminars 2018

Thursday, December 6, 3:30-5:00pm, NHB 1.720vura weis

Ultrafast extreme ultraviolet spectroscopy reveals short-lived states in transition metal complexes and organohalide perovskite semiconductors

Josh Vura-Weis

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Research Web Page

The Vura-Weis lab measures electron transfer and reactivity in systems containing multiple heavy atoms at femtosecond to nanosecond timescales. The central thesis of our group is that by combining the ultrafast time resolution of femtosecond lasers with the element specificity of core-to-valence spectroscopy, we can measure short-lived states that are obscured using traditional spectroscopic techniques. Using a process called high-harmonic generation, we convert near-infrared laser pulses into extreme ultraviolet (XUV) pulses in the 30-100 eV energy range. This technique has primarily been developed in the physics and chemical physics communities, and it is the goal of our group to extend its use to mainstream problems in physical and inorganic chemistry. Our major scientific targets are shown in Figure 1: molecular photocatalysis with bimetallic metal complexes, photomagnetism and photoinduced spin crossover, and organohalide perovskite photovoltaics. These systems are an order of magnitude more complex than the usual targets of XUV spectroscopy, so this work requires innovations in both instrumentation and interpretation.

Publications (Group Page)

Author Metrics

h-index:  20  Total Articles: 33  Total Citations:  1176  (Web of Science, Nov. 2018)


Faculty Recruiting Seminar

Wednesday, December 5, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122zeng

Precision and Complexity in Synthetic Nanoparticle Systems

Chenjie Zeng

Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Pennsylvania

PhD 2016, Carnegie Mellon University

Christopher Murray Lab

Cherie Kagan Group

Research :  Developing next generation solution-processable solar cells based on nanocrystal self-assembly.

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  30  Total Citations:  3719  (Google Scholar Citations, Nov. 2018)


Wednesday, November 28, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 khashab

Suprastructures with Intrinsic Microporosity for "On-demand" Separations and Delivery Applications

Niveen Khashab

Associate Professor, Chemical Science

King Abdullah University (KAUST)

Research Web Page

Professor Khashab's research interests are in design, synthesis, and applications of "smart" programmable nanomaterials with emphasis on the controlled release and delivery aspects of the systems. These engineered materials are utilized for biomedical (delivery, sensing, and imaging), industrial (nanocomposites) and environmental (membranes synthesis) applications.

Biomedical Applications
Stimuli responsive nanomaterials are prepared to package and deliver drugs directly to diseased cells, which reduce the harm to healthy parts of the body. It also allows for the delivery of hydrophobic drugs that cannot be up taken by cells. The delivery containers range from carbon based materials to inorganic capsules such as silica nanoparticles. Sensors and imaging agents based on metallic clusters and particles are also designed for separate use or direct incorporation with the delivery system for enhanced theranostic effect.

Industrial Applications
Surface modification of nanomaterials affects many of their physical and chemical properties. Improving the dispersion and interaction of nanomaterials is a hot topic as it has direct industrial application especially in the field of nanocompsites. Interaction of functionalized nanomaterials with different polymer matrices leads to a new generation of thermally, mechanically, and/or electrically enhanced materials.

Environmental Applications
Designing nanomaterial support systems for different catalysts has impressive environmental implications as it boosts the recyclability of these catalysts, which eventually leads to “green” practices. It also increases and protects the activity of the catalysts, which makes this process commercially viable. Furthermore, incorporating the designed nanomaterials in membranes promotes their practical use for different environmental processes.

Publications (Google Scholar Citations)

Author Metrics

h-index:  23  Total Articles: 94  Total Citations:  2657  (Web of Science, Nov. 2018)

h-index:  28  Total Citations:  3527 (Google Scholar Citations, Nov. 2018)

Friday, November 16, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 marinescu

Bioinspired Coordination Complexes and Polymers for Energy Applications

Smaranda Marinescu

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

University of Southern California

Research Web Page

Energy harvested directly from sunlight offers a desirable approach toward fulfilling the global need for clean energy. In photosynthesis, the energy of photons is used to drive the reduction of carbon dioxide to a variety of higher energy products. This reaction is biologically important because it allows for storing of the solar energy in the form of chemical energy, which can be released later in the process of respiration. Collecting and storing solar energy in chemical bonds, as nature accomplishes through photosynthesis, is a highly appealing strategy to solving the energy challenge. The two reactions considered most often in the context of artificial photosynthesis are the reduction of carbon dioxide and water. Carbon dioxide has received attention as an abundant, economical, and renewable C1 feedstock. The catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to liquid fuels would positively impact the global CO2 balance.

Our research will focus on the design, synthesis, and study of inorganic materials for applications to solar energy conversion. Nature uses metalloproteins to perform difficult reactions, such as the reduction of carbon dioxide or water, near the thermodynamic potential and with high turnover frequencies. With inspiration from the biological systems, we will develop synthetic homogeneous catalysts that involve hydrogen bonding networks or hetero-bimetallic species capable of small molecule activation, and multiple proton and electron transfers. These synthetic systems will be employed for the reduction of carbon dioxide. Our program will also focus on the development of catalytic surfaces that will support homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts for the activation of small molecules, such as water or carbon dioxide.

Researchers in the Marinescu group will become experts in the synthesis and characterization of organic and inorganic species. Glove-boxes and Schlenk-lines will be routinely utilized for the synthesis and handling of air- and moisture-sensitive compounds. The characterization tools for the prepared complexes include NMR, IR, EPR, and UV-VIS spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography. The redox properties and catalytic activity of these species will be investigated by electrochemistry. The new electrode materials generated will be characterized by a variety of surface characterization techniques including SEM, TEM, XPS, and AFM.

The novel metal complexes and materials synthesized in the Marinescu group are expected to provide solutions to challenges related to solar energy conversion.

Publications (Group Page)

Author Metrics

h-index:  18  Total Articles: 25  Total Citations:  1379  (Web of Science, Oct. 2018)

A&P and Inorganic Seminar

Wednesday, November 7, 3:30-5:00pm, WEL 2.122 tang

Synergistic combinations of organic-inorganic semiconductors

Ming Lee Tang

Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

UC Riverside

Research Web Page

This group focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of novel hybrid organic-inorganic materials. Emphasis is on the synthesis of tailor-made organic ligands designed to control, enhance or mediate the optoelectronic properties of nanocrystals (NCs). The use of synthetic organic chemistry in ligand design enables desired properties to be embedded in a modular and scalable manner. These ligands allow the size, shape and material dependent properties of the NCs to be harnessed for energy, metamaterial and optoelectronic applications. The synthetic expertise in this group is complemented by single molecule spectroscopic and thin-film current-voltage measurements.

Publications (Group Page)
Publications (Google Scholar Citations)

Author Metrics

h-index:  26  Total Citations:  3793  (Google Scholar Citations, Oct. 2018)

Wednesday, October 24, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 guo

Spectroscopic and Kinetic Studies of Catalytically Versatile Non-Heme Iron Enzymes

Yisong (Alex) Guo

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Carnegie Mellon University

Research Web Page

We are bioinorganic spectroscopists working on an interdisciplinary field where efforts from biochemists, synthetic chemists, physicists, and spectrosopists are joined together to understand the mechanisms of chemical transformations catalyzed on the metal centers inside metalloproteins. The chemical principles discovered through our research will have strong implications for alternative energy research and human health.

Our main research focus is on iron containing metalloproteins, in particular, small molecule (N2, H2, O2 etc.) activating enzymes, such as nitrogenases, hydrogenases, and oxygenases, as well as biosynthesis of iron cofactors inside these enzymes. Various advanced spectroscopic methods are utilized to gain information regarding iron center changes during enzyme catalytic reactions. Spectroscopic studies are coupled with Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations to establish structural models and further identify reaction mechanisms. The spectroscopic methods we use include Mössbauer Spectroscopy, Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Resonance Raman (rRaman), Nuclear Resonance Vibrational Spectroscopy (NRVS), and Synchrotron Mössbauer.

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  20  Total Articles: 45  Total Citations:  951  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Monday, October 15, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 gorden

Taking advantage of the chemistry of heterocycles: nitrogen donor ligands for uranyl (UO22+) coordination

Anne Gorden

Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Auburn University

Research Web Page

Our research goal is to develop broad-ranging, state-of-the-art programs based on organic synthetic chemistry and inorganic coordination chemistry and apply this to problems of both fundamental interest and practical importance. We have two main areas of focus: the development of new selective actinide coordination ligands for use in sensors and waste remediation, and the development of heterocyclic supported metal catalysts for improved reaction mechanisms, reduced wastes and "green" or sustainable chemistry.

Publications (Group Page)

Author Metrics

h-index:  16  Total Publications: 42  Total Citations:  935  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Wed., October 10, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 osterloh

Water Splitting Photocatalysis with Inorganic Particles

Frank Osterloh

Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

UC Davis

Research Web Page

Research in Dr. Osterloh's group involves the preparation and characterization of inorganic (nano-)materials and their application to solar energy conversion and photocatalysis.   In one project we use organic and inorganic materials to fabricate photovoltaic devices for solar electricity generation. The goal is to better understand photochemical charge generation and separation at solid-solid interfaces. This will allow the fabrication of inexpensive solar cells that are based entirely on abundant elements. This project is performed in collaboration with Prof. Adam Moulé in the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science department, and in collaboration with Richard Brutchey and Stephen Bradforth at the University of Southern California.  In another project we develop inorganic materials as photocatalysts for the overall water splitting reaction - a method to convert solar energy into hydrogen fuel. This project aims at a better understanding of charge separation at solid-solid and solid-liquid interfaces, and at the fabrication of more efficient catalysts. Another goal is to identify methods for safe co-evolution of hydrogen and oxygen and for separating these gases.  Our materials are prepared by solution-phase and solid-state methods, and the devices are prepared as thin films or as suspensions. For physical characterization we employ electron microscopy, powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), optical spectroscopy, electrochemistry, photoelectrochemistry, surface photovoltage spectroscopy, zeta-potential, and irradiation measurements.

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  36  Total Publications:  92  Total Citations:  6314  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

HHMI Seminar

Friday, October 5, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 tolman

Oxidized Copper Complexes as Models for Reactive Intermediates in Enzymes

William Tolman

Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

Washington University (St. Louis)

Research Web Page

Current research in the Tolman group encompasses synthetic bioinorganic and organometallic/polymer chemistry. In the bioinorganic area, our objective is to gain a fundamental structural, spectroscopic, and mechanistic understanding of metalloprotein active sites of biological and environmental importance via the synthesis, characterization, and examination of the reactivity of model complexes. The current goal of our research in the organometallic/polymer area is to synthesize and characterize a variety of metal complexes for use as catalysts for the polymerization of cyclic esters and for converting biomass feedstocks to useful monomers. In this project, particular emphasis is being placed on developing controlled synthesis of polymers derived from renewable resources.

While the synthesis of new molecules lies at the center of our research effort, we also use a wide array of techniques to characterize the compounds we prepare and to examine their reactivity. Among the characterization methods that we use are X-ray crystallography, NMR, EPR, UV-Vis, FTIR, and resonance Raman spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, GC/M, SEC, DSC, tensile testing, and cyclic voltammetry. We also endeavor to unravel reaction mechanisms through kinetics and isotope labeling experiments. Students and postdoctoral associates in the group thus obtain a highly multidisciplinary training in the synthesis, structural and spectroscopic characterization, and mechanistic study of organic, inorganic, and organometallic molecules and polymers.

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  75  Total Publications:  203  Total Citations:  17,018  (Web of Science, Sep. 2018)

Department Colloquium

Wednesday, Sept 12, 3:30-5:00pm, WEL 2.122 Li

Design and Selection of Metalloenzymes and their Applications as Biocatalysts in Alternative Energies and as Biosensors in Environmental Monitoring, Medical Diagnostics and Imaging

Yi Lu

Jay and Ann Schenck Professor of Chemistry

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Research Web Page

The Lu group’s interests lie at the interface between chemistry and biology. We are developing innovative chemical approaches to provide deeper insight into biological structures and functions. We are also taking advantage of recently developed biological tools to advance many areas in chemistry, such as inorganic chemistry, chemical biology, analytical chemistry, and materials chemistry. We strive to make significant contributions in three principal areas of research:

1. Biosynthetic Inorganic Chemistry

Synthesis and study of structural and functional mimics of metalloenzymes and their applications as biocatalysts in renewable energy generation and small-molecule activation and transformation.

2. DNAzyme and Aptamer-Based Sensing and Imaging Agents

In vitro selection of DNAzymes/aptamers and development of highly sensitive and selective sensors and imaging agents for metal ions and small-molecule targets with applications in environmental monitoring, food safety, and medical diagnostics and imaging.

3. Functional DNA Nanotechnology

Using DNA for encoded synthesis and directed assembly of nanomaterials and their applications as theranostic agents for early detection of diseases such as cancers and targeted drug delivery.

Publications (Group Page)

Author Metrics

Undetermined due to name ambiguation.

Department Seminar

Wednesday, May 9, 3:30-4:30pm, WEL 2.122 orvig

Main group Lewis acids: Applications in anion sensing and catalysis

François Gabbaï

Arthur E. Martell Chair of Chemistry

Texas A&M University

Research Web Page

Our research is concerned with the chemistry of electrophilic and/or Lewis acidic molecules with a special focus on the discovery of novel structures and bonding modes. We are currently studying the design of boron-, antimony- and tellurium-containing Lewis acids as water compatible receptors for small anions. These efforts, which constitute the main thrust of our current research, have led to the discovery of anion sensors for small anions, including fluoride, cyanide and azide.  Some of these sensors can be used in water where they provide a turn-on colorimetric or fluorescence response in the presence of the anion. In addition to these analytical applications, we are also applying our anion-capture strategies to the field 18F-positron emission tomography, an imaging technique used for cancer diagnosis.
      A second component of our work deals with the chemistry of heterobimetallic metal complexes containing a Lewis acidic main group element such as tellurium or antimony and a late transition metal.  From a fundamental perspective, we are interested in the nature of the donor-acceptor bond formed between the metal which acts as a donor and the main group element which acts as an acceptor. From a more applied perspective, we are investigating the redox properties of these complexes, some of which support the photoreductive elimination of halogens.  Such reactions are of interest for the discovery of new solar energy storage approaches.  They also provide a means to control the Lewis acidity of the main group center and trigger the release of coordinated anions.
      In addition to synthesis which lies at the heart of our research projects, our investigations also involves the extensive use of modern characterization techniques (UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, electrochemistry) and computational methods (DFT calculations, AIM and NBO analysis).

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  46  Total Publications:  197  Total Citations:  10,476  (Web of Science, Apr. 2018)

highly citedHighly Cited in Field:  3 papers.

Thursday, April 19, 2:00 - 4:00pm, NHB 1.720 orvig

Inorganic Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry

Chris Orvig


University of British Columbia

Research Web Page

Research projects in our labs study the roles of metal ions in the etiology, diagnosis, and therapy of disease. These projects encompass a variety of metal ions as well as numerous ligand systems and a wide panoply of techniques and collaborations. Synthesis of organic ligands and inorganic complexes as well as physical (potentiometric and spectrophotometric titrations, various spectroscopies, electrochemistry etc.) and biological studies (in cells, at UBC Bioservices and/or in collaboration) are undertaken in the research program.

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  59  Total Publications:  225  Total Citations:  11,276  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Thursday, April 12, 3:30pm - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122

Cross-Coupling Reactions Enabled by Oxidative Catalysis and Decarboxylation

Rylan Lundgren

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

University of Alberta

Research Web Page

We are interested in the development of new tools and concepts related to catalysts, sustainable synthesis and reactivity.

Publications (Group Page)


Author Metrics

h-index:  17  Total Publications:  31  Total Citations:  1228  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Monday, April 2, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, WEL 2.122 hannah shafaat

Rebuilding ancient pathways: Model metalloenzymes for energy conversion

Hannah Shafaat

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Ohio State University

Research Web Page

Our research centers on the study of metalloenzymes that carry out valuable reactions relevant to alternative energy sources and clean energy storage. Using nature as inspiration, we seek to harness the advantages of bioinorganic platforms while overcoming the limitations of fragile multimeric protein systems. Our projects utilize a diverse array of scientific tools, from wet chemistry—molecular biology, chemical synthesis, and metalloprotein design—to spectroscopy—steady state and time-resolved optical techniques along with visible and ultraviolet resonance Raman spectroscopy—to quantum chemical calculations. Obtaining molecular-level insight into the mechanisms of catalysis will guide our design of increasingly efficient and robust catalysts for application.

Publications (Group Page)

Author Metrics

h-index:  13  Total Publications:  28  Total Citations:  490  (Web of Science, Mar. 2018)

Faculty Recruiting Seminar  Michael Ross

Monday, February 5, 3:30pm - 5:00pm, WEL 2.122

Designing Functional Materials with Electronically Excited Nanostructured Metals

Michael B. Ross

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry

UC Berkeley

Peidong Yang Lab Research Web Page

PhD, Northwestern, 2016

Yang Group:  One-dimensional (1D) nanostructures are of both fundamental and technological interest. They not only exhibit interesting electronic and optical properties intrinsically associated with their low dimensionality and the quantum confinement effect, but also represent the critical components in the potential nanoscale device applications. With the ever-decreasing sizes of these 1D nanostructures, the “bottom-up” chemical approach is playing an increasing role due to its capability of making much smaller features as compared to the “top-down” approach. Major challenges, however, remains in order to fully exploit the 1D nanostructures: namely, the development of suitable chemical strategies for the rational synthesis, organization and integration of these nanoscale building blocks.

The Yang research group is interested in the synthesis of new classes of materials and nanostructures, with an emphasis on developing new synthetic approaches and understanding the fundamental issues of structural assembly and growth that will enable the rational control of material composition, micro/nano-structure, property and functionality. We are interested in the fundamental problems of electron, photon, and phonon confinement as well as spin manipulation within 1D nanostructures.

Publications (Google Scholar)

Author Metrics

h-index:  10  Total Citations:  480  (Google Scholar Citations, Jan. 2018)

h-index:  9  Total Publications:  21  Total Citations:  354  (Web of Science, Jan. 2018)


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