Category Archives: Research

Valenzano on Research Funding Tour

NSFGroup Faculty Visit to Washington, DC

For the past five years, Michigan Tech deans and the vice president for research have sponsored a group visit to Washington, D.C. for early-career research faculty. To date, 70 Michigan Tech faculty and administrators have participated.

Trip participant, Loredana Valenzano shared these comments about the trip:

“What I enjoyed most was having the feeling that, indeed, PDs [program directors] and POs [program officers] are there to help, and to provide valuable guidance especially to those of us who are trying to build a career in the STEM in times where funding is decreasing and the competition is high. The availability to talk and somehow the capability to alleviate frustrations and anxieties which the people we had the chance to interact with provided, was a pleasant and encouraging revelation. I believe that having the occasion to see with our own eyes how the big machine on the East Coast works is absolutely a key aspect to shoot for success.”

Read more at Tech Today.


T Synthesis of Isobractatin and Neobractatin

Shanshan Hou
Original Research Proposal
Michigan Technological University
Department of Chemistry
Advisor- Dr. Lanrong Bi
Tuesday April 21, 2015
9:00 am
Chem-Sci 106

T Synthesis of Isobractatin and Neobractatin

Abstract
The new Garcinia derivatives, neobractatin and isobractatin, will be synthesized. These compounds are caged-prenylxanthones which are isolated from Chinese native Garcinia bracteata. They displayed strong inhibition of cancer cells, which could significantly induce cell apoptosis and inhibit autophagy. However, the compounds which are extracted from the Chinese native Garcinia species have very low yield. Total synthesis of these derivatives will provide adequate quantities for biological studies. In addition, the new synthetic methodologies could not only produce the target compounds but also give rise to their isomers which could be potential anti-tumor candidates and used for future research.


Interfaced Heterogeneous Nanodimers

Chemistry Seminar
Dr. Yugang Sun
Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
Friday, April 17, 2015 3:00pm Chem-Sci 101

Interfaced Heterogeneous Nanodimers
Abstract:
Synthesis of interfaced nanoparticle dimers made of asymmetric compositions (i.e., interfaced heterodimers) is challenging because it is difficult to manipulate the nanoparticles’ surface properties to control the assembly and/or growth of different nanoparticles. In this presentation, the general principle will be first introduced for the formation of interfaced heterogeneous dimers made of different inorganic nanodomains that exhibit either crystalline or amorphous structures. Although many different combinations are possible, the heterodimers containing plasmonic components (e.g., gold and silver nanodomains) will be focused in this presentation to highlight a number of synthetic methods and unique properties observed in heterodimers. For example, a seed-mediated, surface-confined epitaxial overgrowth strategy is capable of synthesizing high-quality interfaced Au-Ag heterodimers with varying sizes. Au and Ag share a common face-centered cubic lattice and have nearly identical lattice constants, which facilitates epitaxial overgrowth and allows direct contact between the Au and Ag domains. The interfaced Ag nanodomains can be chemical transformed to hollow nanoshells of other materials through a galvanic replacement reaction, resulting in the formation of interfaced dimers made of solid Au nanoparticles and hollow nanoshells. Due to the direct contact between the two components in each interfaced dimer, strong coupling between them are expected to induce new properties that cannot be observed from any individual components.

Biography:

Dr. Yugang Sun is a Scientist at the Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National laboratory. He received his B.S. and PhD degrees from University of Science and Technology of China in 1996 and 2011, respectively. He worked as a Postdoc at University of Washington at Seattle (with Prof. Younan Xia) from 2001 to 2003. During 2004-2004, he had been working with Prof. John Rogers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a postdoctoral fellow. In August 2008, he was appointed as an Assistant Scientist at Argonne National laboratory. He was promoted to Scientist in January 2010.

Dr. Sun’s research interests focus on developing novel approaches for the synthesis of a wide range of nanostructures including metal nanoparticles with well-controlled morphologies, single-crystal semiconductor nanostructures with mechanical flexibility, and metal/semiconductor nanocomposites with multiple functionalities. As of now, he has published more than 130 research papers, with an h-index = 47 and citation times > 23,400. He was honored as one of the “Top 100 Materials Scientists with highest impact score (2000-2010), Rank #5” by Thomson Reuters.


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 A

Abstract:
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.

Biography:
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

Abstract
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.

Bio:
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.


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

Abstract:
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.


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

Abstract
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
Abstract
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

Abstract

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.

Biography
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

Abstract

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.