Author Archive

ChemComm HOT articles – Videos

In this post you can find out more about the latest HOT research published in ChemComm. All of the articles in our HOT collection have been carefully selected by our Editors for their significance, impact and quality.

Watch the following videos to learn more from the authors publishing this urgent research.

Distinct impact of glycation towards the aggregation and toxicity of murine and human amyloid-β
Eunju Nam, Jiyeon Han, Sunhee Choib and Mi Hee Lim
ChemCommun.
, 2021, 57, 7637-7640

 

Enhanced polysaccharide nanofibers via oxidation over SiliaCat TEMPO
Rosaria Ciriminna, Antonino Scurria and Mario Pagliaro
Chem. Commun., 2021, 57, 7863-7868

 

 

 

 

 

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ChemComm Milestones – Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar joins our growing community of authors who have chosen to publish their first-time independent research article in ChemComm. Read Amit’s ChemComm1st article ‘Direct synthesis of polyureas from the dehydrogenative coupling of diamines and methanol‘ in the full milestones collection.  In this post, you can find out more about Amit and his exciting research.https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2021/cc/d1cc01121

Our interview with Amit

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The discovery of new organometallic catalysts to enable a circular economy is the main theme of research in my lab. Starting my independent academic career with the COVID pandemic has made me realize the onus on scientists and academics to prepare our planet to prevent any future catastrophes. The adverse effects of climate change on the environment have become visible in many forms and is a serious cause of concern in current times. These events have motivated me to utilize my expertise to contribute to mitigating the rising threat of climate change. I have therefore decided to dedicate my academic career in pursuit of sustainable technologies to enable circular economy (that advocates for using waste as a resource) e.g. CO2 capture, and utilization, and production of renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable plastics.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The article reveals a new proof of concept method for the synthesis of polyureas using the approach of catalytic dehydrogenative coupling of diamines and methanol. Polyureas are commonly used plastics (used for coatings, and adhesives in construction industries) with an annual global market of 885 USD. Polyureas are industrially produced from the reaction of diamines, and diisocyanates. However, diisocyanates and their precursor – phosgene gas are highly toxic. The method disclosed in this article circumvents the use of toxic diisocyanates with methanol, which is not only less toxic and cheaper, but also renewable and can be made from the hydrogenation of CO2. Thus, the developed method is safer than the current state-of-the-art technology and allows the production of renewable polyureas. Moreover, the use of 13C-labelled methanol also allows the cost-effective production of 13C-labelled polyureas that could find applications in medical technologies such as drug delivery, and tissue engineering when coupled with 13C-MRI.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
In the coming year(s), we hope to develop more efficient (cheaper, higher TON, and reusable) catalysts of earth-abundant metals for the production and degradation of polyureas to demonstrate its closed-loop production cycle. Moreover, we also aim to expand this concept to demonstrate new closed-loop production pathways for polycarbonates, and polyurethanes using the approach of catalytic (de)hydrogenation.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
October 4th, 2010. Sitting on the first bench of my undergraduate lecture course (taught by Prof. K. R. Justin Thomas, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee), I studied the fascinating mechanisms of palladium-catalysed cross-coupling reactions. Oct 6th, 2010; Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to Heck, Negishi, and Suzuki for the development of palladium-catalysed cross-couplings in organic synthesis. I was thrilled with the news! Partly, because this was the first time, I already knew about the topic that won the Nobel Prize. My interest to delve deeper into this area made me write a review article on this topic in the final year of my undergraduate studies and led me to pursue this area for future research expeditions. I carried my DPhil research with Prof. Andrew Weller at the University of Oxford in the area of organometallic chemistry and then moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel to work with Prof. David Milstein on topics of green homogeneous catalysis. The work culture of the Milstein lab allowed me to pursue my independent ideas, lead the required collaborations, and work independently on various aspects of publications. These experiences made me confident to lead a research group in academia.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I was once told about the 3Ds of leadership/management that I have found very helpful in my career.
Delegate: You cannot do everything by yourself. Effective delegation and collaboration can mean accomplishing the project goal in a limited timeframe and maximizing the utilization of individual team member’s strength.
Defer: Prioritise and defer tasks that can wait.
Delete: Time is precious. It is important to say No to certain tasks that don’t fit with your goals and vision.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
ChemComm is a highly prestigious journal and has a large readership from several fields of chemistry. Several breakthroughs (including synthesis of fullerenes, and rules for ring closures) have been published in this journal in the past. All of these factors in addition to the rapid peer-review process made me choose to publish in ChemComm.

Amit Kumar completed his Integrated M.Sc. Chemistry degree (2007-2012) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee where he received several research fellowships and awards (Indian Academy of Science, DAAD -Germany, IIT-ParisTech, KVPY & INSPIRE from the Govt of India) along with the Institute Silver Medal. He then won the Rhodes Scholarship and pursued his DPhil (2012-2016) under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Weller at the University of Oxford, UK. Upon completion of his DPhil, Amit received the PBC fellowship (Planning & Budgeting Committee, Israel) to carry his postdoctoral research with Prof. David Milstein at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel where he was promoted to be a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow in 2019. Amit was awarded the FGS (Feinberg Graduate School) Prize for the outstanding achievements in postdoctoral research 2018 by the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. In Jan 2020, Amit started his independent academic career as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Researcher at the School of Chemistry, University of St. Andrews. His research interests are organometallic catalysis, energy storage, and circular chemistry.

 

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ChemComm 2021 Emerging Investigators collection

In this post you can find out even more about our 2021 Emerging Investigators and their research. Explore the growing collection and head over to our Twitter for the latest updates.

2021 Emerging Investigators – videos

Size-selective synthesis of platinum nanoparticles on transition-metal dichalcogenides for the hydrogen evolution reaction‘ by

 

A mechanism for ageing in a deeply supercooled molecular glass‘ by Andrew Cassidy et al.

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ChemComm Milestones – Stefano Cinti

A warm congratulations to Stefano Cinti for publishing his first independent research article in ChemComm. Be sure to read Stefano’s #ChemComm1st article ‘Merging office/filter paper-based tools for pre-concentring and detecting heavy metals in drinking water‘ in our collection, ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles.

We recently caught up with Stefano to find out about his experience as a first-time author. Read about it in our interview below. 

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The main areas are biosensors, smart materials and sustainability. I think the combination of printing technologies and nanomaterials is capable of providing people with very useful analytical tools for improving life’s quality.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
This article represents a general and simple approach for improving decentralized analysis and to strengthen the concept of citizen science.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
I hope my lab, the uninanobiosensors lab, would be able to generate smart solutions for everyone needs monitoring something, in all contexts.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I was fortunate to work in the laboratory of Prof. Palleschi and Prof. Moscone at University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. They gave me all the fundamentals on biosensors and analytical chemistry, always supported me and allowed to spend time abroad. This gave me a wider, international perspective.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I think the best advice has been given by observing my labmates at UCSD in the group of Joe Wang. I was a visiting PhD student, and it was clear that to make excellent research you just need your creativity and to work hard.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
It is a high-quality platform to highlight my research, and also I like the style of the journal.

Stefano Cinti is Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples “Federico II”. He obtained a PhD in Chemical Sciences in the group headed by Prof. Giuseppe Palleschi at University of “Tor Vergata”. He leads the uninanobiosensors Lab (uninanobiosensors.com) and his research includes the development of Electrochemical (bio)sensors, Paper-Based devices, Nanomotors and Nanomaterials. He spent periods abroad in Finland, UK, USA, Germany and Spain. He published more than 45 papers on peer-reviewed journals, with H-index of 27, >2000 citations. In 2018 and 2019 he has been named Best Young Researcher in Bio-Analytical Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry, respectively (by Italian Chemical Society), and in 2020 he has been inserted in World’s Top 2% Scientists. He is in the board of the Chemical Cultural Diffusion group and of the Young Group of Italian Chemical Society. He is the Chair of AMYC-BIOMED, a multi-disciplinary conference for young chemists in the biomedical sciences. He is active in communicating science to non-specialized audience through TV shows, radio and magazine. Find Stefano on Twitter: @S_Cinti87

Find more ChemComm Milestones news on our Twitter: @ChemCommun

 

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ChemComm Milestones – Ashlee Howarth

We are delighted to introduce Ashlee Howarth, our latest #ChemComm1st author. Ashlee’s first independent research article was published in ChemComm in May. Her Communication ‘Synthetic approaches for accessing rare-earth analogues of UiO-66‘ has now been added to our growing collection, ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Find out more about Ashlee in our interview with her below.

Our ChemComm Milestones interview with Ashlee Howarth

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
In my research lab at Concordia, we are interested in the design and synthesis of new rare-earth metal–organic frameworks comprised of multinuclear cluster nodes. We take inspiration from the field of zirconium-based MOFs – materials that I worked with extensively during my postdoctoral studies – where the vast majority of Zr-MOFs contain hexanuclear cluster nodes as building blocks. We are interested in using rare-earth metals to construct MOFs because of the possibility to generate several multinuclear rare-earth clusters (e.g., tetranuclear, hexanuclear, nonanuclear, etc) with varying geometry and connectivity. The diversity of cluster building blocks that are accessible, allows us to synthesize structures that are not as easily attainable (or not attainable at all) using other metals. We are still in the early stages of this research, but our long-term goals are to study these materials for the adsorption, catalytic breakdown, and chemical sensing of hazardous analytes.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
UiO-66 is a zirconium-based MOF that was first reported by researchers from the University of Oslo in 2008 (https://doi.org/10.1021/ja8057953). Since this initial report, there have been over 4,000 publications on the topic of UiO-66. This is because it is a highly robust MOF, built from hexanuclear zirconium clusters bridged by simple terephthalic acid linkers, and has been shown to be potentially useful for applications ranging from gas capture to catalysis to drug delivery. In this article, we report on the synthesis and characterization of eight rare-earth analogues of UiO-66, specifically the Y(III), Eu(III), Gd(III), Tb(III), Ho(III), Er(III), Tm(III), and Yb(III) analogue. We hope to see these rare-earth analogues of UiO-66 become extensively studied over the next decade, just like the Zr-based prototype.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
In the upcoming year, I hope that we can continue to build foundational knowledge with regards to the tips and tricks for synthesizing rare-earth cluster-based MOFs. This includes expanding on knowledge of de novo as well as post-synthetic modification techniques, purification and activation strategies, and methods for characterizing the chemical and physical properties of these new materials.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
My journey to becoming an independent researcher began when I completed an Honours specialization project as an undergraduate student in the Corrigan lab at the University of Western Ontario. This was when I first learned about research, the possibility of graduate school, and the steps required to become an independent researcher in academia. From there my love for research, and specifically inorganic materials chemistry, continued to grow as a PhD student in the Wolf lab at the University of British Columbia. I was first introduced to MOFs during my postdoctoral studies in the Farha and Hupp groups at Northwestern University, and it was during my 3 years as a postdoc that I grew to love these materials. I was (and continue to be) fascinated by the fundamental aspects of MOF chemistry, discovering new building blocks, making new network structures, and growing crystals. I also love that MOFs have many potential practical applications due to their high porosities, surface areas, and tunable properties. As such, when finishing my postdoctoral studies I knew I wanted to continue working with MOFs – but I wanted to branch out from working with Zr-MOFs and start exploring the use of rare-earth elements. It’s been quite challenging working on a subclass of MOFs that are entirely new to me, but it’s also been very rewarding, and my students and I learn something new every day.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
It’s quite hard to choose just one piece of advice, since I have been given lots of great advice from my mentors over the years. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me, which came from my undergraduate supervisor John F. Corrigan, is to always be yourself. It sounds simple enough, but I was giving a practice presentation for my honours thesis defense and I had made pink PowerPoint slides. One of the other students in the group suggested I change the colour since pink might not be the most obvious choice for a professional scientific presentation. John told me to leave the colour if I liked it, and to always be myself. I’ve carried that advice with me throughout my scientific career and it has helped to give me confidence in myself as a scientist – even at times when I don’t always feel like I belong.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
ChemComm is a great journal with an excellent reputation in chemistry. I always wanted to publish in ChemComm when I was a graduate student but never had the opportunity. When my student, Pedro Donnarumma, was able to find the synthetic conditions necessary to make the first ever rare-earth analogues of UiO-66, I thought that ChemComm would be the perfect venue to disseminate the results quickly and have high visibility within the MOF and materials chemistry communities. I’m very proud to say that my first publication as an independent researcher is in ChemComm and I’m especially proud of the students Pedro Donnarumma (lead author, MSc graduate), Sahara Frojmovic (undergraduate Honours student), Paola Marino (MSc Student), and Hudson Bicalho (PhD candidate) who worked so hard to make it possible! The work also wouldn’t be possible without our awesome collaborator and expert crystallographer Dr. Hatem Titi.

Ashlee J. Howarth was born and raised in London, Ontario. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario in 2009, and then went on to do her PhD in inorganic materials chemistry at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Michael O. Wolf. Before joining the faculty at Concordia, she completed an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University with Joseph T. Hupp and Omar K. Farha. In 2018, Ashlee was recognized by Forbes Magazine as a “30 under 30” in Science for her contributions to research in the field of wastewater treatment, and the detoxification of chemical warfare agents. In 2019, she won the UBC Chemistry Young Alumnus Award, which recognizes a young alumnus whose accomplishments are of such excellence that they provide inspiration and leadership to students and other young alumni. At Concordia, Ashlee is the Concordia University Research Chair in Metal–Organic Frameworks, and the Howarth group is focused on the design and synthesis of rare-earth metal–organic frameworks targeting applications in wastewater remediation, catalysis, and chemical sensing.

 

Explore more ChemComm Milestones news and updates on our Twitter: @ChemCommun

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ChemComm Milestones – Robert Godin

ChemComm Milestones – Robert Godin

Robert Godin reached an exciting milestone this year when he chose to publish his first independent article in ChemComm. You can read Robert’s #ChemComm1st article ‘Experimental determination of charge carrier dynamics in carbon nitride heterojunctions‘ in our growing collection, ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Authors. We are also pleased to confirm that Robert’s significant research now features in our 2021 Emerging Investigators collection too.

To find out more about Robert’s experiences as a first-time author, watch the video interview below.

ChemComm Milestones interview with Robert Godin:

Explore more #ChemComm1st content on our Twitter: @ChemCommun

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ChemComm Milestones – Erli Lu

We were really excited to speak to Erli Lu about his #ChemComm1st article ‘A monomeric methyllithium complex: synthesis and structure‘. This recently published Communication is available to read in our full collection ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. It’s also Open Access.

Find out about Erli and his research in our interview below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The main research area of my lab is group-1 and group-2 metal coordination chemistry, for example, lithium, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Since my PhD, I have studied coordination chemistry of some of the most obscure metals, such as rare-earth and actinide metals. Compared to them, group-1 and 2 metal coordination chemistry are thought to be ‘well-established’. But actually, if looking closely, there are many knowledge gaps in this area. To fill these gaps, I set our research targets towards these ‘familiar strangers’.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
This article is our first step to unveil the unknown face of some of the most common chemical reagents, in this case, organolithium reagents. Organolithium, for example, butyllithium, is arguably the most important organometallic reagents, and the parent of organometallic chemistry. The vital roles of organolithium in numerous organic reactions depend on their aggregates—they exist as oligomers but are postulated to react via the monomers. Chemists want to isolate the monomers, to understand the reaction mechanisms, but this is a formidable task: the monomers are super-reactive and very easy to decompose. In this article, we isolated the first monomer of the archetypical organolithium reagent: methyllithium.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
More exciting complexes, of course! And more papers, for sure! We hope to change an existing prejudice held by chemists that the group-1 and 2 chemistry are not as versatile as d-block and f-block metals, just because they have been studied for over a century.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I decided to pursue a research career since my 2nd PhD year—when I made my first important discovery (the first scandium terminal imide) in Yaofeng’s group at SIOC. This work was published in ChemComm in 2010 and has inspired, influenced and encouraged me since then. The training of a coordination chemist is similar to a Jedi Knight for me: it’s nearly impossible to succeed without a local guru’s help and guidance. I was lucky to meet my two ‘Jedi Masters’: Prof. Yaofeng Chen and Prof. Steve Liddle, who helped me to grow into an independent researcher.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
‘Grit teeth and carry on’—It is very often (maybe too often) easy to feel frustrated, if not desperate, in a research career. But persistence will be rewarded eventually.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
I have published 4 Communications in ChemComm, including some of my most important results. From my experience, the two biggest advantages of ChemComm against competitor journals are the rapid reviewing procedure and the professional editorial teams. The handling editors of ChemComm are active academics and do the research themselves—this is very important to ensure a fair and reasonable scientific judgement about a manuscript. Another reason to publish in ChemComm is supporting our local Chemical Society—though it is a less popular practice nowadays than before.

Erli Lu was born in Hefei, China, in 1984. His university degree (BEng) was awarded in 2006 by Tianjin Polytechnic University (China) in Polymer Material Science and Engineering. He joined Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC), Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2006, studying rare-earth metal coordination chemistry in the Yaofeng Chen group and was awarded the PhD in 2012. In the same year, he moved to the UK as a postdoc researcher with an EU Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship to join the Steve Liddle group at the University of Nottingham, investigating actinide coordination chemistry. He had stayed in the Liddle group at Nottingham and Manchester from 06.2012-09.2019, before starting his independent career at Newcastle University, as a Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow. Erli’s group at Newcastle investigates new aspects of group-1 & 2 metal coordination chemistry, including new highly reactive organolithium complexes, low-valent group-1/2 complexes, and their applications in catalysis and energy storage. Find Erli on Twitter: @erli_lu

 

Enjoying #ChemCommMilestones? Follow all of the news and updates on our Twitter @ChemCommun.

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ChemComm Milestones – Benjamin Le Ouay

This April, Benjamin Le Ouay reached an exciting ChemComm Milestone when he published his first independent research article in our journal. You can read Benjamin’s #ChemComm1st article here: Crystalline assembly of metal–organic polyhedra driven by ionic interactions with polyoxometalates

We spoke to Benjamin about his experiences as a first-time author. Read more in our interview below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
My research group is focused on building new functional materials using metal-organic polyhedra (MOPs) as elementary sub-units. During my previous post-doc experience, I worked on the surface chemistry and supra-particle assembly of Au and Ag nanoparticles, then on MOFs as reactive hosts for polymer guests. Thus, I worked with both nano-objects and with coordination chemistry materials. The current research topics are at the junction of all these previous experiences. I am fascinated by how modular design principles and controlled assembly and disassembly of structures can lead to unprecedented materials’ properties. Porous dispersible cages offer an excellent platform to achieve this goal through careful control of their surface chemistry.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
In this article, I use anionic polyoxometalates (POMs) to drive the assembly of MOPs into crystalline porous networks. Electrostatic interactions are rarely considered when building microporous materials, despite being one of the main stabilizing forces in traditional solid-state chemistry. However, they possess several features that make them very interesting for functional materials chemistry. Therefore, I want to show how the assembly of porous charged MOPs with POMs or other functional counter-ions can lead to a wide variety of new materials with high performances or even unprecedented properties.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
This first article showed the assembly of typical Keggin POMs with two isostructural MOPs. Many more assemblies can be considered, by multiplying the diversity of POMs by that of MOPs. I also plan to dedicate some research effort on preparing other types of functional porous salts.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
Becoming an independent researcher took me about seven years. After two years of post-doc in Switzerland, I considered permanent positions, but I felt I was missing something in my chemistry expertise, notably concerning the more “molecular” aspects of materials chemistry. So I went to Japan to work on Polymer@MOF composites. This project was very formative and made me think a lot about how local but also mesoscale interactions can be harnessed to give innovative properties to materials. I also got married in Japan. After five years, I felt ready to take a position and an opportunity offered itself in Fukuoka, so here I am.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When you try something, no one can guarantee your success, but if you set yourself for failure, then for sure you will fail. So, always adopt a positive attitude for anything you attempt.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
With this project, I felt that the most important was to report the main concept early on, before spending more time exploring and taking advantage of the wide diversity of structures that can be reached. For this reason, I chose to report these results as a communication. ChemComm offered the perfect combination of fast publishing, broad audience, and recognized quality.

Benjamin Le Ouay received his PhD in 2012 from Paris 6 University, France. After a post-doctoral experience at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland) under the supervision of Pr. F. Stellacci, he moved to Japan in 2015 to work with Pr. T. Uemura and Pr. S. Kitagawa on the immobilization of polymers in metal-organic frameworks, first in Kyoto University then at the University of Tokyo. Since 2020, he is an Assistant Professor at Kyushu University (Fukuoka, Japan), working in collaboration with Pr. M. Ohba. His research is focused on the use of porous coordination cages as elementary sub-units for the realization of functional superstructures.

 

You can find Benjamin’s #ChemComm1st article and more in our collection. Don’t forget to head over to our Twitter page for the latest #ChemCommMilestones news and updates.

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ChemComm Milestones – Pei-Xi Wang

Congratulations to Pei-Xi Wang who has published his #ChemComm1st article ‘Lyotropic Liquid Crystalline Phases of Anisotropic Nanoparticles of Organic-Inorganic Metal Halide Perovskites: Photoluminescence from Self-Assembled Ordered Microstructures of Semiconductors‘ within the last month. We recently spoke to Pei-Xi about his experiences as a first-time independent author. Find out more in our interview below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
Motivated by the charming microscopic orderliness of liquid crystalline phases, which provides a relatively simple and controllable bottom-up biomimetic approach to various fascinating hierarchical structures existing in plants and animals, we decided to focus on the development of novel lyotropic liquid crystals as well as the fabrication of functional composite nanomaterials based on them. Currently, we are trying to build a general synthesis method that can transform different types of organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites into colloidal liquid crystalline mesogens, and to further use these semiconducting soft anisotropic materials in optoelectronic devices.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The functionalization of many types of conventional colloidal liquid crystalline mesogens, such as vanadium pentoxide nanoribbons, polypeptides, and cellulose nanocrystals is usually difficult, i.e., it is hard to endow them with specific energy band gaps or other desired physical properties by chemical modification. In this article, the feasibility of synthesizing mesogenic nanoparticles of organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites has been proven, as metal halide perovskites are a class of materials with excellent structural and compositional diversity, it would be possible to systematically develop a large family of colloidal lyotropic liquid crystals with semiconductivity, luminescence, ferroelectricity, magnetism, chirality, or other preferred features.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
Since late March, my first two graduate students, Ting-Ting Zhou and Cai-Yun Zhao have started to work in the lab. In the coming year, I hope they can find their real research interests either in the field of lyotropic liquid crystalline materials, where I would be able to support them with the experience and knowledge I have gathered during my Ph.D. and postdoctoral studies, or in any other fields attracting them or fortunately initiated by themselves, where they can enjoy the exciting process of making new discoveries every day.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
From 2007 to 2009, when I was a student in Henan Experimental High School, I learned a lot of classical and modern physics for the Chinese Physics Olympiad, during which time I was strongly attracted by the conciseness of physical principles such as the Maxwell equations. However, I did not have a clear understanding of scientific research until the completion of my first project under the supervision of Prof. Mark J. MacLachlan (I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Vitor M. Zamarion for his kind help with that project). There was a moment when I accidentally realized that the circular dichroism signal of a chiral nematic mesoporous silica film filled with a Prussian blue analogue should be the product of the absorption and CD spectra of the unfilled film, which was for the first time I noticed that there might be some interesting mathematical relationships behind the seemingly tedious experimental data. From then on, I learned how to build a comprehensive view of the materials and physical phenomena involved in my studies, and started to enjoy the hunt for undiscovered phenomena in the jungle of my experiments.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
It would be a Chinese saying “吾生也有涯, 而知也无涯, 以有涯随无涯, 殆已”, which means “my lifespan is limited, while knowledge is infinite, spending my limited time on pursuing unlimited knowledge is harmful”.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
In the past several years, I have been inspired by many classical research articles published in ChemComm, therefore I believe that ChemComm is a great journal for rapidly reporting new chemical discoveries with clear scientific significance and authenticity.

Dr. Pei-Xi Wang was born in China in September 1992. He received his B.Sc. in chemistry from Jilin University in July 2014. He then moved to Vancouver in August 2014 to pursue a Ph.D. and completed his doctorate in chemistry at the University of British Columbia in October 2018, where under the supervision of Prof. Mark J. MacLachlan, he studied the structures and transformation of chiral nematic liquid crystalline tactoidal microphases of cellulose nanocrystals by scanning electron microscopy. Afterwards, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the MacLachlan group at UBC (2019/01-2019/12) and in the Edward H. Sargent group at the University of Toronto (2020/01-2020/11). Pei-Xi started his independent research as an associate professor in early December 2020 at the Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he focuses on the development of colloidal lyotropic liquid crystals of semiconducting organic-inorganic metal halide perovskites.

 

Read Pei-Xi’s #ChemComm1st article and others in our growing collection, ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Article. Follow us on Twitter for all of the latest #ChemCommMilestones news.

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ChemComm Milestones – Bartosz Lewandowski

Bartosz Lewandowski’s ChemComm1st article ‘Chiral recognition of amino-acid esters by a glucose-derived macrocyclic receptor‘ is available now. We wanted to find out more about Bartosz and what it was like to reach this ChemComm Milestone in our interview below.

Read our with Bartosz interview here.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The main topic which we are investigating is the use of monosaccharides as building blocks to create supramolecular receptors and assemblies. We want to take advantage of the intrinsic features of these biomolecules (e.g. water solubility, biocompatibility, modularity) and create new types of supramolecular systems and devices for controlled and selective encapsulation, transport and chemical transformations of molecular entities.

I was “hooked on sugars” during my Ph.D. studies in the group of Prof. Sławomir Jarosz where I explored the chemistry of sucrose. This was a great learning experience for me as I got to know the challenges associated with sugar chemistry, but was also able to appreciate the great potential of these biomolecules. And I felt that there are many exciting things that can be done with sugars, particularly in the context of supramolecular chemistry, which is exactly what we are working on right now.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The ability to separate or detect enantiomers of bioactive molecules is of high importance since they very often have vastly different chemical and biological properties. Achieving this goal in aqueous media is particularly relevant if one wants to develop analytical tools for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Within our manuscript we demonstrated the efficacy of a simple glucose-based macrocycle for differentiation of amino-acid enantiomers in aqueous environments. Thus our results open up exciting opportunities for the development of molecular tools for chirality sensing and enantiomer separation of bioactive molecules.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
Firstly, I hope that we can build on the results we just published and develop further carbohydrate-based chiral receptors. We plan to utilize the modularity of monosaccharides and their potential for functional fine-tuning to create supramolecular receptors with additional attractive features (e.g. increased chemoselectivity, fluorescence). My other ambition for this and following years is to explore other research pathways with carbohydrate-based macrocycles and use them as building blocks to create novel functional supramolecular assemblies and perhaps even molecular machines.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I think the moment when I started to seriously consider becoming an academic researcher was when I joined the group of Prof. David Leigh for my post-doc. Designing and creating molecular machines is a tremendous scientific challenge. But for me it also contained an element of pure joy and excitement coming from assembling small molecular fragments piece-by-piece into a device that can perform complex tasks. And the satisfaction when the final goal was achieved rewarded all the difficulties and frustration that came along the way. And that’s when I thought “Yes, this is what I want to do in life.” That thought was then reinforced when I joined the group of Prof. Helma Wennemers. Working on highly multidisciplinary cutting-edge research and being immediately entrusted with supervision and guidance for junior co-workers (both students and Ph.D. students) allowed me to greatly mature as a scientist. It also inspired me to create my own research plan for the future. And at the end of 2015 I successfully applied for the position of a Senior Scientist in the Wennemers Group at the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, ETH Zürich. This is a unique position which gives me the opportunity to build my independent research line while remaining an integral part of Prof. Wennemers’ team where we pursue exciting research projects.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with many incredibly supportive people and I’ve received a lot of great advice from them. The two pieces that stuck with me the most over the years are:
“If you keep doing excellent work, good things will eventually come your way.” and “You should never talk yourself out of an experiment.”

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
First of all because it’s one of the leading chemistry journals in the world with a broad impact on the scientific community. It’s also among my favourite journals to read when I screen recent literature. Finally, I was very keen on publishing my first independent work in ChemComm as this is where the most significant results of my PhD were published.

Bartosz Lewandowski was born in Kętrzyn, Poland in 1981. He obtained his M.Sc. degree in Chemical Technology from the Warsaw University of Technology in 2004. He carried out his Ph.D. research on synthesis and complexing properties of sucrose-based macrocycles in the Institute of Organic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, in the group of Prof. Sławomir Jarosz. He successfully defended the Ph.D. thesis in 2009 and in the same year became the FNP (Foundation for Polish Science) Post-Doctoral Fellow in the group of Prof. David Leigh at the University of Edinburgh. There he worked on the design, synthesis and operation of molecular machines. In 2013 he joined the group of Prof. Helma Wennemers at the ETH Zürich as a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow, working on oligoproline-based macrocycles and supramolecular assemblies for molecular recognition and catalysis. In 2016 he was appointed as a Senior Scientist in the Wennemers Group. His research focuses on using monosaccharides to create supramolecular receptors and assemblies for selective binding, transport and chemical transformations of guest molecules.

Read Bartosz’s ChemComm1st article and others in our collection ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Article. Follow @ChemCommun for all of the latest journal and #ChemCommMilestones news.

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