06/08/18 -4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Special Seminar: Professor Alexander Spokoyny
"3D Aromatic Cluster-Based Building Blocks and Reagents"
Two hundred years of research with carbon-rich molecules have shaped the development of modern chemistry. Research pertaining to the chemistry of boron-rich species has historically trailed behind its more distinguished neighbor (carbon) in the periodic table. Most importantly, a potentially rich and, in many cases, unmatched field of using boron-rich clusters in materials science remains fundamentally underdeveloped. Our work is devoted towards examining several basic concepts related to the functionalization of polyhedral boron-rich clusters and their use as unique building blocks for materials with applications ranging from catalysis to modulating protein-biomolecule interactions. These clusters are particularly interesting since they can be regarded as three-dimensional (3D) analogs of benzene. The unique chemical and physical properties of these species such as rigidity, inertness, and 3D aromaticity, allows one to access a set of properties not normally available in carbon-based chemistry. For example, in the past several years we demonstrated how these clusters can be used to create a new class of organic light emitting diode materials, extremely powerful photo-oxidant reagents for olefin polymerization, unique building blocks for stabilization of surfaces and atomically-precise nanoparticle surrogates featuring improved stabilities in biological media. My presentation will focus on several of these recent developments highlighting new directions for these clusters as they apply to both synthetic chemistry and potential applications in materials science.
Professor Spokoyny was born and spent his childhood and teenage years in Moscow, Russia. After his family immigrated to United States in 2001, he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was introduced to the area of boron cluster chemistry working as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne. He continued his graduate chemistry education at Northwestern University under the guidance of Professor Chad A. Mirkin. At Northwestern, Spokoyny developed new materials, devices, and fundamentally new classes of ligand platforms based on organomimetic carborane clusters. Upon receiving his doctorate in inorganic chemistry in 2011, he decided to move further east, where he was a National Institutes of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow working in the laboratories of Professors Stephen L. Buchwald and Bradley L. Pentelute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There his research interests involved the development of new bioconjugation strategies for peptides and proteins and regulation of protein-protein interactions. He has been a faculty at UCLA since 2014.
Professor Spokoyny's research encompasses an interdisciplinary approach focusing on pressing problems in chemistry, biology, medicine and materials science. To tackle these challenges, researchers in his laboratory are exploring fundamentally new synthetic avenues, structural understanding, and applications for inorganic and organomimetic clusters. They focus on the development of an extensive and versatile synthetic toolbox, allowing for the functionalization of various 3D cluster motifs (polyhedral boranes and carboranes), polyoxometallates (POMs), and small aluminum and noble metal clusters. Specifically, researchers are currently working on new ligand platforms with unique electronic and steric features, stable inorganic radicals, and multifunctional, atomically precise nanosized molecules. These research efforts will reveal novel and potentially useful solutions to important problems in science and technology, including: catalysis, energy storage and protein recognition and labeling.