Category Archives: News

Zintl and Polar Intermetallic Compounds

Chemistry Department Seminar Faculty Candidate
Dr. Fei Wang

Polymer and Material Chemistry, Lund University Sweden
Monday April 6, 2015
4:00 PM, MUB~ Alumni Lounge B

Zintl and polar intermetallic compounds are compounds between electropositive metals (e.g. alkali, alkaline earth, and rare earth) and electronegative metals/metalloids (e.g. late transition and post transition elements). Just like their constituent elements, these compounds are also metals/metalloids. Meanwhile, partial charge transfer is expected from the electropositive metals to the electronegative metals/metalloids, the latter of which are formal “anions” and covalent interactions can occur among them. Therefore, Zintl and polar intermetallic compounds possess simultaneously metallic, ionic, and covalent characteristics. I will demonstrate what will happen when metallicity, covalency, and ionicity coincide and interplay with each other.
Besides, the bonding between the “anionic” electronegative metals/metalloids is also intriguing. The well-know electron counting rules, such as the octet rule and the Wade-Mingo’s rules, fail frequently in rationalizing the bonding in Zintl and polar intermetallic compounds. I will present a few examples to illustrate the cause, with emphasis on the involvement of d-orbitals and the relativistic effects in bonding.

I obtained my master’s degree from Zhejiang University in China in 2005. There I worked on morphology controlled syntheses of inorganic compounds under the direction of Prof. Linhai Yue. After that, I joined Prof. Gordon J. Miller’s research group in Iowa State University, where I developed the majority of my expertise in solid state chemistry, including high temperature synthesis, X-ray crystallography, and first-principle computations. In 2011, I received my PhD degree in inorganic chemistry and moved to Stuttgart, Germany, working as a postdoc in Prof. Martin Jansen’s department in Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research. My project is on the syntheses, structures, and rationalization of thallium cluster compounds featuring significant relativistic spin-orbit coupling. Currently, I am in Prof. Sven Lidin’s group at Lund University in Sweden, working on my second postdoc position which started in 2013 and is supported by the Wenner-Gren Scholarship. Here, my expertise has been further broadened with incommensurate crystallography and thermoelectric materials.

Sustainable Clean Energy Based on Solid State Ionic Materials and Devices

Chemistry Department Seminar Faculty Candidate
Dr. Jianhua Tong
Colorado Center for Advanced Ceramics,
Metallurgical & Materials Engineering, Colorado School of Mines
Thursday March 19, 2015
MUB ~ Alumni Lounge A
1:00 pm

It is estimated that global energy consumption will be doubled by 2035 due to growth in global population and continued industrialization of developing countries. Solar energy is a renewable clean energy source and can satisfy the rising energy demand eventually from long-term point of view. However, fossil energy, a non-renewable carbon-based energy source, still dominates the energy supplies in near future. Therefore, the efficient conversions of fossil energy and the efficient storage of solar energy are also very important from both scientific and industrial point of view. Among the energy materials, the leading actors for energy conversion and storage, solid state ionic materials have found a great number of applications such as catalytic membrane reactors, fuel cells, electrolysis cells, heterogeneous catalysts, photovoltaics, thermal electronic devices, materials for solar thermal chemical fuels production, and catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction and oxygen evolution reaction etc.
In the first part of the talk, I would like to briefly highlight my significant research contributions to sustainable clean energy based on solid state ionic materials and devices. In the second part of the talk, I would like to intensively focus on my recent discovery of perovskite-type oxides as promising materials for solar thermochemical (STC) fuels production through two-step redox cycles.

Dr. Jianhua Tong is working as an Associate Research Professor in Colorado Center for Advanced Ceramics at the Colorado School of Mines (US). He received his PhD degree in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Subsequently, he worked as NEDO project researcher in Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (Japan), JSPS fellow in National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan), and postdoctoral scholar in California Institute of Technology (US) for several years. He has made some important contributions to the materials and devices for sustainable clean energy by focusing on fuel cells, catalytic membrane reactors, pure hydrogen production, pure oxygen production, natural gas conversion, mixed conducting oxides, proton conducting ceramics, and solar thermochemical fuels etc. He published >60 peer-reviewed papers, filed >15 patents, and got citations >2500 and H-index >24.

Exploring environmentally relevant aqueous interfaces and reactions on solid surfaces

Chemistry Department Seminar Faculty Candidate
Dr. Kathryn A. Perrine

Department of Chemistry, University of California Irvine
Monday March 16, 2015
Chem-Sci 101
4:00 pm


Ions and solutes impact chemistry at the aqueous liquid/vapor interface, particularly in environmental chemistry where aerosols can carry pollutants into the atmosphere and react to form harmful byproducts. Liquid Jet X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy technique probes the surface and bulk of aqueous solutions. Low photoelectron kinetic energies are used to probe the surface layers of solutions and higher photoelectron kinetic energies probe deeper into the bulk of aqueous solutions. Binary acetonitrile-water mixtures are shown to be inhomogeneous and that the surface forms a saturated dipole layer near 0.2 mole fraction. These studies are contrasted to ternary solutions that have added ions from salts that affect the interface of organic solutes. Potassium iodide was added to aqueous acetonitrile and propionitrile solutions to observe the effects of ions on the surface nitrile distributions. Results from other salt solutions suggest specific cation effects are unexpected and apparent at the aqueous interface. These studies help elucidate the role ions play at the interface of aqueous organic solutions.

Solid interfaces can also have an impact on reactions in catalysis and in the environment. Supported metal oxide structures that are commonly found in urban and rural environments can produce various byproducts with pollutants through core-hole activation in the presence of UV and visible light. In order to understand how the interface is impacted on heterogeneous surfaces, thermal desorption studies of water on different heterogeneous structured TiO2 materials were investigated. Results suggest as the size of the metal oxide decreases, its physical properties change its chemistry and reactivity. Monolayer and second layer activation energies of water were determined on different graphite supported TiO2 structures, ranging from supported nanoparticles to thin films. These studies compare the reactivity of small molecules, representative of those in the air/water environment, and will help explain gas/solid reactions on heterogeneous supported metal oxide materials for catalysis and environmental applications.

Dr. Kathryn A. Perrine found a passion for surface science as an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina, where she worked on characterizing the decomposition of metal encapsulated dendrimers for supported metal catalysis applications. She then attended graduate school and earned her PhD at the University of Delaware, where she studied semiconductor surface science. Her work there focused on understanding how Cu nanostructures grow on different functionalized silicon surfaces from chemical vapor deposition of copper metal-organic precursors. She also collaborated with researchers at the Materials Science Department to examine how organic molecules react on silicon for future use in organic electronics. There she won the competitive University of Delaware Professional Development Award for her research accomplishments. She also completed a full year in teaching in higher education by completing the Higher Education Teaching Certification.

She later went on to do postdoctoral work at the University of California, Irvine mainly focused on Liquid-Jet X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (LJ-XPS). She collaborated with researchers at the BESSY II light source at the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy on aqueous and acidic systems. She helped build a separate LJ-XPS system at Beam line 11.0.2 end station at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to continue aqueous liquid jet studies in a higher pressure environment. She collaborated with others in the Hemminger group to investigate other projects, including hydrocarbon decomposition on supported Pt nanoparticles and understanding the reactivity of supported TiO2 materials for heterogeneous catalysis applications. There she was a member of the Postdoctoral association and received the UCI postdoctoral service award for developing a seminar series for postdoctoral teaching. She currently works as a visiting postdoctoral scholar at the Joint Center for Photosynthesis at the California Institute of Technology on heterogeneous catalysts for electrochemical solar energy conversion.

Synthesis of Lipodiscamide A

Ashok Khanal
Original Research Proposal
Michigan Technological University
Department of Chemistry
Advisor: Dr. Shiyue Fang
Thursday, March 5, 2015
10:00 am Chem Sci ~ Room 211

Synthesis of Lipodiscamide A

Lipodiscamide A is a cytotoxic lipopeptide extracted from the marine sponge Discodermia kiiensis. Research on lipodiscamide A has been fueled by its properties such as cytotoxicity, and antimicrobial and immunosuppressive activities. In this proposal, the total synthesis of lipodiscamide A will be described. Structurally, lipodiscamide A contains an unsaturated fatty acid moiety and a hexapeptide moiety. The two moieties are linked together with two ester bonds to form a macrocycle. The yield of this compound from natural sources is very low. Therefore, its synthesis from readily available starting materials resulting in large amounts of lipodiscamide A is important for full investigation of its biological activities.

Distinguished Teaching Award Finalists Announced

by William G. Jackson CTL

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning seeks input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contribution to the instructional mission of the University.

Based on more than 50,000 student rating of instruction responses, ten finalists have been identified for the 2015 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to aid in its deliberation process.

The finalists for the two awards include:

Associate Professor/Professor
Associate Professor William Breffle (SBE)
Professor Mary Carol Friedrich (VPA)
Associate Professor William Kennedy (CLS)
Professor Gregory Odegard (ME–EM)
Professor Gordon Parker (ME–EM)

Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice
Lecturer Todd Arney (SoT)
Assistant Professor Joseph Bump (SFRES)
Assistant Professor Tarun Dam (Chem)
Lecturer Danny Miller (SoT)
Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Reed (Math)

Comments on the nominees are due by Friday, April 3, and can be completed online.

The process for determining the Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from this list of finalists also involves the additional surveying of their classes. The selection committee makes the final determination of the award recipients. The recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award will be formally announced in May 2015.

Impact of Molecules, Morphology and Nano/microstructures in Sensing, Optical, Energy and Display applications

Chemistry Department Seminar Faculty Candidate
Dr. Kaushik Balakrishnan

Monday March 2, 2015 – 4:00 PM
Chem-Sci 101

The ability to control optical and electrical properties of materials as a function of size and dimension has profound implications in numerous miniaturized technologies such as sensing, communication, lighting, display, optical and electrical circuits, and energy applications. This talk will unravel critical information about molecular stacks from individual molecular entities and advance to our newly uncovered possibilities to co-¬‐localize, and co-¬‐assemble two distinct molecular entities in a single stack of highly organized assemblies. Such self-¬‐assembled structures show immense potential in photonic and opto-¬‐electronic devices and are a promising approach for advancing organic electronic materials in advance applications.
Second part of this talk will focus on energy harvesting and storage. The nanocarbon structures such as carbon nanotubes, and graphene are highly attractive for use as electrodes in supercapacitors, and lithium ion batteries. The detailed workings of the recent breakthroughs in ‘in-¬‐plane’ geometry that enables an ultrathin, flexible, and solid-¬‐state graphene based supercapacitors will be described. Also, nanocomposites for achieving high performance electrolytes capable of withstanding high temperatures with large voltage windows for next generation of supercapacitors and batteries will also be described.

Synthesis of Taiwaniadducts I and J

Xin Yan
Original Research Proposal
Michigan Technological University
Department of Chemistry
Advisor-Dr. Lanrong Bi
Thursday, February 26, 2015
9:00 am Admin Building Room 404
The Taiwaniadducts I and J, as cycloadducts of terpene quinones from taiwania cryptomerioides, will be synthesized. These two compounds are isolated from Taiwania cryptomerioides hayata, a large coniferous evergreen species common to Taiwan. They have potential in medical applications due to the breadth of their biological activities. However, low yields of these naturally extracted compounds limits further research on their biological activities and no synthetic approaches to these two compounds have been reported before. Herein, we design a synthetic route which can provide adequate quantities of target compounds for further biological studies. Moreover, the design methodology involved in this proposal may show a reasonable approach to the synthesis of this kind of cycloadducts.

Upper Peninsula ACS Local Section Research Seminar

Upper Peninsula ACS Local Section Research Seminar

“Carbon Nanomaterials: from Zero-dimensional Cages to Three-dimensional Graphene Sheets “

Dr. Yun Hang Hu,  Charles and Carroll McArthur Endowed Chair Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University

February 27, 2015 – 3:00 PM – Rekhi Hall G006


Because of the bonding flexibility of carbon, carbon-based materials exhibit various structures with a large variety of physical and chemical properties. Three-dimensional carbon allotropes (graphite and diamond) have been known from the earliest history. The zero-dimensional carbon fullerenes and one-dimensional carbon nanotubes were discovered within the last 30 years. Furthermore, isolated two-dimensional graphene, which is a one-atom thick carbon layer with hexagonal ‘‘honeycomb” lattice, was experimentally obtained 10 years ago. Actually, the discovery of those nano-structured carbon materials is one of the most important developments in science and engineering. In this talk, Dr. Hu is going to discuss his research for (a) the defect structures and the endohedral complexes of C60, (b) the stability and structure of atomic carbon chains, and (c) the synthesis and application of three dimensional graphene sheets and their application for energy.

Dr. Yun Hang Hu is the inaugural Charles and Carroll McArthur Endowed Chair Professor at
Michigan Technological University. His main research interests range from nanomaterials, CO2 conversion, clean fuels, hydrogen storage materials, catalysis, quantum chemistry calculations to solar energy. He has published more than 120 peer reviewed papers in reputed journals (such as JACS, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and Adv. Mater.) and organized more than 20 international symposia on materials and energy. He was a program chair for the ACS Energy and Fuels Division. He is an editor for three books, an editorial board member for nine journals, a chair of the ACS Energy and Fuels Division, and a president of the Hydrogen Storage Division of the International Association of Hydrogen Energy (IAHE). He is a fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).


Assessing the Binding Capabilities of Bromodomain-Containing Protein 9

Sarah Hopson (Advisor- Dr. Martin Thompson)

Doctoral Student, Department of Chemistry,Michigan Technological University

Monday, March 2, 2015-9:00 am- Admin 404


Post-translational modifications of histones, such as the acetylation of lysines, play an importantrole in regulating transcription. Histone tails have a large proportion of positively-charged residues, which create electrostatic interactions with the negatively-charged DNA backbone. Lysine acetylation is thought to weaken these interactions, because it neutralizes lysine’s positively-charged side chain.

Proteins recognize the acetylated lysines using bromodomains; bromodomains are acetylated lysine “readers” and play a critical role in modulation of gene expression. Of the 46 bromodomain-containing proteins in the human proteome, 15 function as transcriptional regulators and 8 function as chromatin remodelers. Nearly all of the other bromodomain proteins influence transcription in some manner (histone acetyltransferase, transcription repressor, transcription initiation, etc.). Due to their significant influence on transcription, mutations of bromodomains are often linked with cancers.

Bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9) has not yet been studied. The aim of this proposed research is to determine the specificity and affinity of BRD9 toward acetyl-lysine sites on the tails of the four core histone proteins.

A high-throughput examination of possible histone interactions with the bromodomain of BRD9 will be conducted using a modified SPOT array. The peptides demonstrating the strongest interactions with the bromodomain will be synthesized using standard Fmoc peptide synthesis. A quantitative examination of the binding affinities of these peptides to the bromodomain, the bromodomain and DUF3512 (domain of unknown function), and the full length BRD9 will be conducted using isothermal titration calorimetry. The results will be compared to determine how the surrounding amino acid sequences affect the bromodomain’s binding capabilities.

Chemistry-themed Student Research Symposium at NMU, April 11, 2015

The Upper Peninsula Section of the American Chemical Society is now soliciting abstract submissions for the Student Research Symposium, which will be held at NMU’s New Science Facility in Marquette on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

The purpose of the event is to provide a venue for students to present their research in chemistry, chemical engineering and related fields. This symposium will be an excellent opportunity for students, faculty and the community at large to learn about the interesting research being conducted in the UP. This year the initiative will see the participation of presenters from schools within the Northeast Wisconsin local section.

Poster abstracts can be submitted online. The deadline for abstract submission is March 15. There is no registration fee.

Cash awards to the best posters will be given, and every participant will receive a gift from the UP local section.

Questions should be directed to Loredana Valenzano (, UPLS 2015 Chair.

From Tech Today.