1. A New Method to Create Curved Molecules
With the growing interest in using carbon nanotubes in materials science, polymer chemistry, and renewable energy research, synthetic chemists must keep pace in developing new organic reactions to aid in the synthesis of uniform samples of carbon nanotubes. My lab is working on a new palladium-catalyzed method to induce curvature into flat polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that will reduce the steps necessary to synthesize bowl-shaped PAHs, which could be used to generate carbon nanotubes.
2. Synthesis of C72: a missing member of the fullerene family
Fullerenes have become an important component in modern organic electronic devices. Specifically they have greatly increased the efficiency of organic photovoltaic cells, and larger fullerenes have been shown to absorb different wavelengths of visible light than C60. This difference in properties makes the study of all stable fullerenes extremely important, but under current manufacturing methods only certain fullerenes are available for study. Applying methods developed in our lab we will attempt to synthesize a “missing” fullerene, C72.
3. Use of C60 as Neural Protectants
Fullerenes have become an important component in modern organic electronic devices, but also have medical uses as well because of their antioxidant properties. Our goal is to create soluble fullerene derivatives that will cross the blood-brain barrier and act as a protectant against reactive oxygen species in the brain.
4. Flash Vacuum Pyrolysis
A powerful way to create flat and curved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is through the use of flash vacuum pyrolysis (FVP). Our group is currently investigating the use of external radical sources to accomplish carbon-carbon bond forming reactions in the gas phase at high temperatures using FVP.
5. Cobalt Catalyzed Reactions
In the last 25 years organic methodology has been dominated by catalytic transition metal mediated reactions that have yielded a plethora of new transformations. Late transition metals such as nickel, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, and copper have been shown to facilitate a great number of organic reactions. Certain metals such as cobalt have been underdeveloped as reagents and catalyst, despite their relative abundance. For example, rhodium is 726 times more expensive than cobalt yet both share similar reactivity. With this in mind, my lab is working to develop numerous cobalt-catalyzed organic reactions.