Archive for the ‘ChemComm1st’ Category

ChemComm Milestones – Ellen Robertson

We are pleased to let you know that Ellen Robertson has reached a ChemComm Milestone with her #ChemComm1st article: ‘Synthesis and characterization of plasmonic peptoid nanosheets‘.

Find out about Ellen and her research below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
I’m a physical chemist by training and my research specifically focuses on colloid and interfacial science. In my lab, we are working to develop new classes of surface enhanced Raman scattering sensors based on the co-assembly of two-dimensional peptoid scaffolds and nanoparticles at fluid surfaces. Our goal is to use these sensors to detect environmental pollutants that are prevalent in Upstate New York. I’ve always been interested in using chemistry to solve environmental problems. In college, I worked on a service-learning project in my introductory chemistry course in which we collected soil and water samples from the community and tested them for lead. I realized from this example how chemistry can be used for the good of the environment and its inhabitants, and it is my aim as a chemist to do this kind of good.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The research presented in this article clearly demonstrates how the power of interfacial self-assembly can be implemented to fabricate new nanomaterials with interesting properties. I believe the method described in the paper for forming plasmonic peptoid nanosheets can likely be extended to creating two-dimensional arrays of magnetic, semiconducting, antibacterial, and catalytic nanoparticles. This generalizable strategy has the potential for creating a new class of two-dimensional nanomaterials that have a wide range of optical, electronic, and magnetic properties.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
In the upcoming year, my lab hopes to test the limits of our peptoid-directed assembly mechanism for forming new two-dimensional nanomaterials. We are planning to see if we can fine-tune the properties of these nanosheets by varying the nanoparticle concentration, size, surface chemistry, and material used in the synthesis.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
My journey to becoming an independent researcher was the result of my love of chemistry and some timely opportunities that I was able to pursue. I started my research path as an undergraduate at Kalamazoo College. I worked in Jeff Bartz’s lab studying the gas phase dissociation of NOx compounds. Jeff encouraged me to pursue summer research opportunities, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to work for one summer at Dartmouth College making cobalt nanoparticles in Barney Grubb’s lab, and one summer at the University of Oregon studying interfacial assembly in Geraldine Richmond’s lab. I loved the Richmond lab research so much, I returned as a graduate student to complete my Ph.D. research, which focused on understanding the assembly of polyelectrolytes at the oil-water interface using vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy (VSFS) and interfacial tension measurements. While in graduate school, I worked on collaborative project between Geri’s lab and Ron Zuckermann’s lab at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in which I characterized peptoid monolayers using VSFS. The aim of these studies was to assign spectroscopic signatures to peptoid monolayers that were capable of forming peptoid nanosheets via monolayer compression and collapse. Working on this collaboration was a great experience and prompted me to apply for and accept a postdoctoral position in Ron’s lab. I spent two years working in Ron’s lab using interfacial tension and rheology to determine the factors that affect the ability of different peptoid sequences to form monolayers capable of collapse into nanosheets. Following my postdoctoral appointment, I returned to Kalamazoo College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry. It was here that I realized my love of working with undergraduates in the research lab, and so I sought out a position at a primarily undergraduate institution. Now an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Union College, my independent research combines elements of my graduate research (self-assembly at the oil-water interface) with my post-doctoral research (using peptoids to create new materials).

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Some of the best advice that I have ever been given is to embrace a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, we can always envision new ways to improve, both professionally and personally. Failure no longer becomes an obstacle, but an opportunity to learn something new and grow.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
I chose to publish in ChemComm because this journal is well known for publishing novel research that is of immediate and broad interest to those in the field of chemistry. I was so excited when my lab discovered the plasmonic peptoid nanosheets described in our recent ChemComm publication. I realized that the synthesis of these novel materials through peptoid monolayer collapse at the oil-water interface opened the door for creating a brand-new class of two-dimensional nanomaterials. I wanted to share this discovery with a broad audience of chemists that could see the utility in these new materials and the method used to prepare them. I am grateful for the opportunity that ChemComm has given me to share my science story.

Back: Ellen Robertson, Chris Avanessian, Anna Mahony, Elizabeth Whitney
Front: Misty Zaczyk, Mindle Shavy Paneth, Jana Davis

Professor Ellen J. Robertson received her Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of Oregon where she studied the assembly of polyelectrolytes at the oil-water interface using vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy. Ellen then held a post-doctoral appointment at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab where she studied the assembly mechanism of peptoid nanosheets at the air-water interface. After serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Kalamazoo College for two years, Ellen was hired as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Union College, a small private liberal arts institution in Upstate New York. Here, she has established her research program, the overall goal of which is to develop peptoid-based surface enhanced Raman scattering sensors for detecting pollutants that are persistent in Upstate New York. Her work has been funded by The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region’s Bender Scientific Fund. Ellen is dedicated to undergraduate education in chemistry, both in the classroom and in the research lab. At Union, Ellen teaches courses in general and physical chemistry and works with undergraduates in her research lab. She also co-advises Union College’s American Chemical Society Student Chapter. Outside of chemistry, Ellen is an avid tennis player, competing both at the local and national level. 

You can find all of our #ChemComm1st articles in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow @ChemCommun for all of the latest ChemComm Milestones updates.

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ChemComm Milestones – Bogdan Barz

We are delighted to bring our latest ChemComm Milestones interview. This time, we would like to highlight Bogdan Barz’s #ChemComm1st article: Compact fibril-like structure of amyloid β-peptide (1–42) monomers.

Read our interview with Bogdan below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The focus of my group is on modeling intrinsically disordered proteins, their aggregation into highly
stable fibrils and their interaction with inhibitory peptides. One of the main aims is to quantify
protein-protein interaction and establish a direct connection to experiments. Therefore, a strong
collaboration with experimental groups is of high value. The motivation behind the research path
my group pursues is highly related to the work I did during my Ph.D., where I encountered free
energy calculation methods for the first time, but also to my later work on modeling amyloid
proteins and their self assembly. As an independent researcher I plan to combine these two topics
and make sure that my research is well anchored in experimental observations.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The amyloid beta protein is a key protein in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease but its precise role is
not understood yet. Therefore, one should study all aspects and stages of aggregation into toxic
oligomers and fibrils in order to have a comprehensive understanding of its complex role in
Alzheimer’s disease. The monomers are the smallest species along the assembly process and
their structural diversity is a hot topic of research. Experimentally, it is difficult to study them due to
the fast aggregation into fibrils, especially for the amyloid β-protein 1-42 (Aβ42). Computationally,
there are many studies directed at monomers, generally with diverging conclusions, but there are
high hopes in the modern force fields specifically tailored for intrinsically disordered proteins. What
makes our study special is the finding that the structural features of the monomer model resemble
those of peptides from fibrillar structures, which is an important piece of the big puzzle. This study
explains to some degree the strong propensity of the Aβ42 monomers to aggregate into a specific
type of fibrils.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
Studying the structural flexibility of the Aβ42 monomer is only the first step of this project. We are
currently working on elucidating the interaction of the monomer with amyloid fibrils in a quest to
understand the relevant factors that contribute to the secondary nucleation of the amyloid beta
protein. My first Ph.D. student, Soumav Nath, is an excellent experimentalist and has already
performed many experiments planned for this project under the supervision of Prof. Alexander K.
Büll from the Technical University of Denmark. Soumav has also learned to perform molecular
dynamics simulations and is now responsible for a large part of the computational work. For the
rest of the year we will finalize the computational part of the project, corroborate the results with the
experiments and publish several related manuscripts. The funding for my group will end this fall,
but we are hoping for a more permanent status in the future.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I always remember Dr. Nicolae Aldea’s advice that in science, as in other areas, working with
people is the most difficult task and treating co-workers with respect is what makes a great
research team.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
I find ChemComm a great journal for the diversity of topics and scientific methods used in its
published papers, but also for its fast publication process. This is my second time publishing in
ChemComm and, based on my previous experience, I can confirm that the journal has great
visibility and the published work has good chances to be cited in further studies.

Dr. Bogdan Barz is a junior group leader at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität in Düsseldorf, Germany. He received his B.S. in Physics and his M.Sc in Applied Mathematics, Mechanics and Astronomy at Babe -Bolyay University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania where he ș focused on topics in magnetohydrodynamics under the supervision of Conf. Dr. Marcu Alexandru. During his masters studies he also worked as a research scientist at the National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies Cluj-Napoca, Romania in the field of X-ray
spectroscopy under the guidance of Dr. Nicolae Aldea. Afterwards, he started his graduate studies at the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA in the group of Prof. Ioan Kosztin where he received his Ph.D. in Physics working on various topics in computational biophysics. He then pursued a postdoctoral position at Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA in the group of Prof. Brigita Urbanc
where he applied computational methods to study protein aggregation. This position was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Research Centre Jülich, Germany in the group of Prof. Birgit Strodel where Dr. Barz used various computational techniques to describe the self-assembly process of amyloid proteins. Currently, his group, funded by a grant from the German Research Foundation, works in close collaborations with experimental researchers and combines enhanced sampling techniques with free energy methods to quantify protein-protein interaction.

 

Read more #ChemComm1st articles in our growing collection ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow us on Twitter for more #ChemCommMilestones news.

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ChemComm Milestones – Cédric Colomban

This week, we bring you our ChemComm Milestones interview with Cédric Colomban who recently published his #ChemComm1st article. Read ‘A tris(benzyltriazolemethyl)amine-based cage as a CuAAC ligand tolerant to exogeneous bulky nucleophiles‘ in our First Independent Article collection.

Here’s our interview with Cédric:

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
My lab, the Bioinspired Confined Catalysis group (BCC), was established in 2020 and is interested in caged bioinorganic complexes for efficient and selective catalytic transformations in confined spaces. Since my Msc’s studies I am amazed by the fascinating reactivity of the nature’s catalysts that are enzymes (and in particular metalloproteins). My research interests have always been inspired by these systems with (i) artificial models reproducing their active sites (PhD on bioinspired catalysts), and (ii) receptors inspired by their tridimensional architectures (postdocs on supramolecular cages). In this line, the BCC group merges these approaches to develop bioinorganic confined catalysts.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
Due to its broad range of applications (chemical biology, material science, interlocked structures), the Cu-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition reaction (CuAAC) is the most popular transformation of the “click chemistry” toolbox. Many efforts have been devoted to assisting ligands that improve the reaction efficiency and, among them, the tris(benzyltriazolemethyl)amine TBTA has been the most widely used CuI-coordinating structure. However, the recent emergence of CuAAC biorthogonal chemistry has revealed the ongoing need for catalysts that remain active in complex mixtures, such as living systems, where they have to face the competition of bulky CuI-chelators (mainly reduced gluthathione GSH). In this context, the challenge is to develop CuAAC-ligands tolerant to exogeneous bulky nucleophiles such as biothiols.
In this work, we get inspiration from the enzyme hydrophobic pockets, to reach an efficient protection of the TBTA-Cu(I) active core. The canonical ligand was equipped with a bowl-shaped cap to yield the first TBTA-based organic cage. We demonstrate that our shielded ligand remarkably protect the Cu-center from it deactivation by GSH, without suffering from product inhibition effect, opening the way to efficient CuAAC transformations in complex media.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
Findings and funding! First of all, like every research team, I am hoping to return to easier working conditions and to be allowed to attend conferences. This will help the students to keep growing as researchers, and to develop research-networks. Various exciting findings have been recently made in the BCC group regarding Cu and Fe-catalysis and we hope that theses preliminary results will became groundbreaking discoveries. In particular, I am hoping to continue our pioneering research in the field of Bioinspired Confined Catalysis, thanks to funded projects.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
After finishing my Msc in bio-organic and bio-inorganic chemistry at the University Grenoble-Alpes, I completed my Ph.D. studies (University of Lyon, France) on bioinspired homogeneous catalysis using porphyrin-like diiron complexes (A. Sorokin group, IRCELYON). After this experience with “open” models, I chose to pursue my research in the field of supramolecular cages and host-guest interactions, and undertook my 1st postdoc on self-assembled cages at the University of Girona, Spain (M. Costas and X. Ribas group, IQCC). Having explored the field of multicharged metallacages, I then decided to focus on purely organic receptors and I completed a 2nd postdoc in the A. Martinez group (Ecole centrale of Marseille, iSm2, France). Finally, in 2020, I was ranked 1st at the highly competitive French-CNRS recruitment contest and become independent researcher at the institute of molecular sciences of Marseille, iSm2, France (BCC group).

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When I was a PhD student I once asked my supervisor (Alexander Sorokin) if I could try one particular experiment, and his answer was: “Cédric, if we are doing this job, it is to try everything we want!”. Behind these worlds the idea was: important discoveries often arise from unusual experiments, and researchers should pursue their weird ideas without being afraid of failure. As a mentor I am now applying this advice by encouraging students’ creativity.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
Being a leading journal in general chemistry, and having short format articles, ChemComm has always been part of my favorite journals as a reader. As an author, ChemComm present the advantage of fast publication time and high impact. The journal was therefore perfectly suited to this work that aims at delivering one key message: CuAAC transformations in complex media could be achieved thanks to caged-ligands.

Cédric was born in Briançon, France, in 1986, and obtain a Msc in bio-organic and bio-inorganic chemistry from the University Grenoble-Alpes. He completed his Ph.D. studies (University of Lyon, France) on bioinspired catalysis in 2014, at the IRCELYON institute, under the guidance of Drs. A. Sorokin and P. Afanasiev. He undertook his 1st postdoc with Profs. M. Costas and X. Ribas at the University of Girona, Spain (2015-17), on self-assembled cages and dynamic host-guest interactions. After a second postdoc (2018-19) on organic cages in the group of Prof. A. Martinez (Ecole centrale of Marseille, iSm2, France); he obtains, in 2020, a position of CNRS researcher and started the Bioinpired Confined Catalysis group at the institute of molecular sciences of Marseille, France (iSm2). His group focuses on the preparation and applications of caged bioinorganic complexes. Twitter : @Dr_Colomban_Ced

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ChemComm Milestones – Sheng-Heng Chung

Sheng-Heng Chung published his #ChemComm1st article this year. We were excited to hear that Sheng-Heng had chosen our journal for the home of his first independent research article. You can read his urgent research here: Lean-electrolyte lithium–sulfur electrochemical cells with high-loading carbon nanotube/nanofiber–polysulfide cathodes.


Find out more about Sheng-Heng in our interview below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
We are a newly-established young research group from September 2019. Our group mainly focuses on the electrochemical conversion and storage technology, such as rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells. In the department of Materials Sciences and Engineering, our team further works on the scientific studies, in terms of the new energy materials and their electrochemistry, and the engineering designs, in terms of the device components and their fabrication processes. The motivation in conducting this research aims to build up an integrated electrochemical conversion and storage system featuring high energy/power density and long operation life.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
Focusing on the future energy-storage technology, our group is now systemically studying the battery electrochemistry and performance development to develop the lithium-sulfur battery with high energy density. The overall goal of this research article is to propose a new concept in designing a lean-electrolyte lithium-sulfur battery featuring a high amount of the active material, which is necessary to realize a high-energy-density lithium-sulfur battery. Moreover, we apply the designed lean-electrolyte lithium-sulfur battery as a testing platform to demonstrate the importance to investigate the discharge/charge efficiency and low-rate performance for a long cycle life to ensure the stabilization of the conversion-type active material with solid and liquid states in the sulfur cathode. With a more reliable lithium-sulfur battery cathode, we will overcome the scientific/technical challenges by realizing high sulfur loading/content with limited excess lithium in a lean electrolyte cell.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
The publication of our group’s first research article in a high-ranking journal, ChemComm, in 2021 is an exciting achievement for a one-year-old research group. Since our group is still at an early stage, our team aims to establish a solid foundation in our electrochemistry and energy materials research. Our group also welcomes the cooperation and extension of our present researches to support the research and design community.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
The time during my undergraduate and Masters at National Cheng Kung University (with Professor Hsing-I Hsiang) and from National Tsing Hua University (with Professor Jau-Ho Jean) in Taiwan gave me wonderful friendships with many laboratory equipments. My experience at the University of Texas at Austin (with Professor Arumugam Manthiram) educated me in conducting research experiments and proposals. I had the opportunity to mentor several graduate and undergraduate students in the lab during this time. These two experiences inspire me to become an independent researcher to deal with research facilities and share knowledge to future scientists.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Treat every day as the last day.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
Our group starts from ChemComm because it is a high-impact and renowned journal in our research field in Chemistry and Materials Science. ChemComm provides authors with the fast publication time and good support from the RSC system.

Sheng-Heng Chung obtained his B.S. (2006) in Resources Engineering and in Materials Science and Engineering from National Cheng Kung University and M.S. (2008) in Materials Science and Engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. He joined the Materials Science and Engineering PhD program (2015) and worked as a research associate (2019) with Professor Arumugam Manthiram at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at National Cheng Kung University. His current research is focused on electrochemical conversion and storage technology.

 

Read Sheng-Heng’s article and others in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow us on Twitter for more #ChemCommMilestones and #ChemComm1st content.

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ChemComm Milestones – Ariel Furst

Congratulations to Ariel Furst on achieving her first ChemComm Milestone. We are excited to bring you our interview with Ariel discussing her #ChemComm1st article: ‘Covalent capture and electrochemical quantification of pathogenic E. coli

Read more below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
The Furst lab combines biological and chemical engineering with electrochemistry to address challenges in human health and clean energy. We develop new technologies to detect pathogens, combat antimicrobial resistance, degrade environmental pollutants, and improve clean energy technologies. We are motivated by the most pressing global problems: lack of inexpensive, easy-to-use sensors and diagnostics for low-resource settings and dearth of accessible clean energy technologies. Watch our video for more info: https://ilp.mit.edu/watch/ariel-furst

Can you set this article in a wider context?
E. coli are dangerous pathogens, strains of which are responsible for both foodborne illnesses and urinary tract infections (UTIs). According to the USDA, each year, foodborne illnesses impact nearly 50 million Americans, leading to over 100,000 hospitalizations, with an economic cost of over 15 billion dollars. Worldwide, these illnesses cause over 400,000 deaths annually, with a disproportionate impact on children. Preventative measures are critical to prevent these infections and improve patient outcomes. Similarly, E. coli-based UTIs are some of the most common infections, and current diagnostics necessitate centralized facilities and multiple days for diagnosis. Thus, clinicians often prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics without knowledge of the infectious agent, which leads to recurrent infections and emergent resistances: an exacerbation of both the individual and global problems. We have developed an inexpensive, disposable electrochemical sensor to selectively capture E. coli and accurately quantify them. This technology is a major step toward the implementation of point-of-care and point-of-contamination sensing of these deadly bacteria.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
The Furst Lab is continuing to develop technology to sense dangerous pathogens. We plan to continue to develop diagnostic technologies to detect not only the strain present but also antibiotic resistances in an integrated platform. We are additionally expanding our sensing targets to include the degradation and detection of small-molecule environmental contaminants. We hope to have prototypes of these platforms by the end of the year.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Over the years many advisors and mentors have given me great advice, but at the end of the day it’s something that we all learn at a young age, the golden rule: treat others like you would like to be treated. This simple truth extends to all aspects of life and research and ensures that we have an inclusive environment that we can all thrive in.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
With interdisciplinary work, it is important to reach a wide audience. ChemComm reaches a broad audience and is a great place to share this work. Additionally, the format, a communication, is a great way to share new and exciting work quickly.

Dr. Ariel L. Furst is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago working with Prof. Stephen B. H. Kent to chemically synthesize proteins. She then completed her Ph.D. with Prof. Jacqueline K. Barton at the California Institute of Technology developing new electrochemical diagnostics based on DNA charge transport. She continued her training as an A. O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Francis Group at the University of California, Berkeley. The Furst Lab combines electrochemical methods with biomolecular and materials engineering to address challenges in human health and environmental sustainability. Follow Ariel on Twitter: @afurst1, @FurstLab

Read Ariel’s #ChemComm1st article and others in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow the hashtags on our Twitter.

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ChemComm Milestones – Wooseok Ki

Our ChemComm Milestones campaign celebrates new, urgent research from emerging scientists. We recently spoke to Wooseok Ki about this #ChemComm1st article ‘Blue-shifted aggregation-induced enhancement of a Sn(iv) fluoride complex: the role of fluorine in luminescence enhancement‘.

 

Find out about Wooseok’s experiences as a first-time author in our interview below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
Our primary research goal is to develop and understand the properties of earth-abundant metal based light emitting phosphors using simple solution chemistry. We have developed new tin(IV) halide complex phosphors. Interestingly, our bis(8-hydroquinone)tin(IV) fluoride complex significantly enhances quantum efficiency compared to that of the known, analogous, tin(IV) chloride complex. Furthermore, our tin(IV) flouride complex exhibits interesting aggregation-induced enhancement emission (stronger fluorescence emission in the solid-state than liquid) while the tin(IV) chloride complex does not. Most metal complexes suffer aggregation-induced quenching, weaker emission in the solid-state than liquid, which is a critical issue in OLEDs because OLEDs are fabricated with solid-state film. Therefore, the observed phenomena led to in-depth studies on understanding the role of fluoride ion in the system.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
Most highly efficient metal complexes are composed of expensive rare-earth or noble elements such as Ir, Pt, Re, and Au, which range from 1~90% regarding photoluminescence quantum yield. Despite their excellent performance, one of the drawbacks of using these elements is their high cost elements due to being imported from China. For example, iridium (Ir) costs $41.58 per gram, as reported in 2018, and has been steadily increasing over the years. On the contrary, tin metal is about $0.02/gram. For this reason, abundant, inexpensive transition metal-based complexes have been extensively researched. In our lab, new tin(IV) complexes have been synthesized and characterized by focusing on the effect of halides (i.e., F, Cl, Br, and I) bound to the metal center. In general, the popular way of tuning the optical and electrical properties of metal complexes is to substitute different functional groups in organic molecules(ligands). In our study, we have focused on changing halides bonded with a tin(IV) center with the same organic ligand. Indeed, the choice of halides significantly affects optical, chemical, electrochemical, and structural properties. We are able to tune photoluminescence emission properties systematically. We observed that stronger σ bonding between tin(IV) and fluorine induces significantly improves quantum yield as well as creates aggregation-induced enhancement emission. Our findings would provide to be an important research direction in the way of improving the efficiency of OLEDs.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
In general, the optical emission of metal complexes in the solid-state shows a red-shift with respect to the solution. However, the tin(IV) fluoride complex exhibits blue-shifted aggregation-induced enhancement emission. Therefore, I plan to implement computational studies (Density functional theory) to determine the fundamental mechanism of the fluorinated tin(IV) complex compared with chlorinated tin(IV) complex.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
As a materials engineering major, I didn’t explore fundamental chemistry much. My PhD journey allowed me to build up on the fundamental chemistry of inorganic organic hybrid semiconductor materials to understand structure-related properties. After my PhD, I was postdoc at Purdue University and University of Washington, developing earth-abundant thin film solar cells via molecular precursors. Such experiences prepared me as an independent researcher. Furthermore, my industrial experience in Silicon Valley broadened my knowledge and analytical skills, helping to developing my research interests.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Failure does not exist in research. Mistakes are stepping stones for new opportunities.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
ChemComm is a renowned, high-impact journal with fast and excellent support for researchers. The fair review process was the main reason I chose publish in ChemComm.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Stockton University. I obtained my Ph.D. degree in materials chemistry at the Rutgers University-New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Jing Li. After that, I joined Dr. Hugh Hillhouse’s research group at the University of Washington as a postdoctoral associate to develop earth abundant thin film solar cells, such as Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS)and PbS. I had industrial experience as a Silicon Valley research scientist developing CZTS thin film solar cells for commercialization. My current research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of new earth-abundant metal complexes.

 

If you’re interested in reading more outstanding research from first-time authors, head over to our collection ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. You can also find #ChemComm1st related content on our Twitter page: @ChemCommun

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ChemComm Milestones – Anna Kaczmarek

ChemComm Milestones celebrates emerging authors in the chemical sciences. This week, we spoke to Anna Kaczmarek who recently published her #ChemComm1st article on Ho3+–Yb3+ doped NaGdF4 nanothermometers emitting in BW-I and BW-II. Insight into the particle growth intermediate steps.

Find out more about Anna and her research below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
My lab, the NanoSensing group, was founded in the beginning of 2020 and studies nano-sized optical sensors, specializing in nanothermometers. We have a special interest in interdisciplinary research, where the nanothermometers based on inorganic and hybrid nanomaterials can be combined with other fields such as biomedicine or reaction monitoring. We also focus part of our work on hybrid materials, such as lanthanide-grafted Covalent Organic Frameworks or lanthanide-grafted Periodic Mesoporous Organosilica, which is quite unique in the thermometry field. I have recently obtained an ERC Starting Grant on the topic of thermometry for theranostic applications, so that is currently our main theme in the research group. I have become fascinated with the topic of luminescence thermometry still during my post-doc and I am very happy I have received the chance to build a research lab at Ghent University to explore this fascinating topic.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
There are two interesting findings we have reported in this article – a new thermometry system based on Ho3+, Yb3+ doped 𝛽-NaGdF4 nanoparticles as well as the influence of reaction time on the 𝛽-NaGdF4 particle morphology and unique intermediate morphologies, which are formed during the transformation from 10-15 nm 𝛽-NaGdF4 spheres to 200 nm hexagonal-shaped particles.

To place the topic of the developed new thermometry system in a wider context it is important to explain that for diagnostic purposes temperature measurements in biomedicine are very important because temperature plays an essential role in biological systems. For biomedical applications accurate measurements in the so-called physiological range are crucial. It is true that detecting the temperature can be done employing more robust, and already commercially available techniques (e.g. thermocouples or infrared imaging), however optical temperature measurements at the nanoscale make it possible to revolutionize the studied resolution and reveal and research phenomena that are otherwise inaccessible to traditional thermometers. In the work we report the excellent thermal sensing capability of Ho3+, Yb3+ doped 𝛽-NaGdF4 nanoparticles, where the system is excited into the 5F55I8 transition of Ho3+ (640 nm) and the ratio of the 2F5/22F7/2 transition peak of Yb3+ and the 5I65I8 transition peak of Ho3+ were employed for thermometry applications. This system has previously not been explored for thermometry, however offers an excellent thermometer operating in the 1st and 2nd biological window of the human tissue. This type of system can show a high relative sensitivity in the physiological temperature regime upon measurements in water medium, without the need of shielding the Ho3+, Yb3+ doped 𝛽-NaGdF4 nanoparticle with any kind of protective silica layer despite its near infrared emission. Therefore, this is a very interesting finding for the luminescence thermometry community, where obtaining highly sensitive near infrared thermometers still remains a big challenge.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
I hope we can find answers and solutions to some current problems in the world of luminescence thermometry. Especially in the biomedical field there are, without doubt, still many challenges ahead of us. Also aiming for multidisciplinary materials is far from a trivial task, so we hope we will be successful in our current undertakings! Luis Carlos, an expert in lanthanide thermometry from Aveiro University, has pointed out at a congress that we need to do efforts to find real applications in the coming 10 years for the thermometers we are developing, otherwise there will be no future for this field. I take these words very seriously and will try my best to make important contributions in the field. On another level, I hope to see my research group grow and I hope I can attract new and enthusiastic researchers to come work with us. Every new person brings in a fresh perspective and a set of ideas how to solve scientific questions. I also hope to see my current students grow as researchers, and I hope that they will find joy in all the discoveries they will make during their PhDs.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I have always known I wanted an academic career. This might have to do with the fact that my father is an academic professor. All the biographies he brought home to me about Marie Sklodowska-Curie, whom soon became someone I idolized, definitely had a huge impact. After obtaining a Master’s degree at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland, I decided to pursue my PhD abroad at Ghent University in Belgium in the lab of Rik Van Deun. Back then, little did I know that this was the university I would, several years later, obtain a professor title. Although I obtained a tenure track position quite young the journey was not always smooth. Funding was not always easy to acquire and there were moments in my career when I was uncertain of what the future might bring. However, I was fortunate to have people at Ghent University who believed in me and supported me when yet another funding agency rejected my post doc applications. I am very grateful for that. I also have had the opportunity to carry out several very enriching stays abroad in the labs of Francisco Romero-Salguero (Cordoba University) and Andries Meijerink (Utrecht University). They have had a huge impact on my career development and finding my own path as an independent researcher. Many colleagues in the luminescence thermometry community have also had an impact on my growth to become an independent researcher. I am very lucky to work in this supportive community. It was a bumpy road, but 2020 brought many changes. A terrible year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but for me a very good year in many ways as I was fortunate to have been awarded the Marie Sklodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellowship, a tenure track position at Ghent University and the ERC Starting Grant, all just a few months apart. Now I have lots of work to do, and I hope to show more really exciting and relevant research in the coming years.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I am sure there has been a huge amount of very useful advice I have received over the years working in academia and long before that. I know they have had an important impact on my development. But actually the one advice that stuck most in my head comes from a book: “When you want something with all of your heart, the universe conspires to helping you achieve it” – The Alchemist Paulo Coelho. These words kept me dreaming big and not giving up even when I was facing huge obstacles. I believed that if an academic career was what I wanted, and I worked hard enough for it, eventually it would work out. And indeed, it did. Now I am at the start of my new adventure as an independent researcher running my own lab.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
ChemComm is a renowned journal with a broad readership in chemistry. In general I am very fond of RSC journals as the review time is always fast and the process very clear and transparent.

Anna M. Kaczmarek is a materials chemist studying luminescent nanothermometers and their applications in various fields such as biomedicine, high temperature industry and catalytical applications. She develops nanomaterials mostly based on lanthanide ions, however other systems based on e.g. organic dyes or silver particles have also attracted her attention.
Anna M. Kaczmarek received her master degree in chemistry from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland in 2010. In 2015 she defended her PhD in Chemstry at Ghent University, Belgium. She carried out post doctoral research in 3 different groups at Ghent University and also carried out several long stays abroad at Cordoba University (Spain) and Utrecht University (The Netherlands). During this time she developed her own research line of luminescence thermometry employing inorganic and hybrid organic/inorganic nanomaterials, MOFs, COFs, and PMOs. In 2020 she obtained a permanent position at the Department of Chemistry of Ghent University (Belgium) and started the NanoSensing group, which will study nano-sized optical sensors and specialize in nanothermometry. Several leading groups in Europe and the world are already studying this important topic, however, to the best of knowledge, the NanoSensing group is the only lab in Belgium studing the emerging topic of nanothermometry. She recently obtained a prestigious ERC Starting Grant on the topic of thermometry for theranostic applications. In her work she is especially intersted in interdisciplinary research where nanothermometers based on inorganic and hybrid nanomaterials can be combined with other fields e.g. biomedicine, chemical reaction monitoring, nanoelectronics.

 

 

Find more in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles or on our Twitter, @ChemCommun.

 

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ChemComm Milestones – Conrad Goodwin

We were delighted to speak to Conrad Goodwin about his #ChemComm1st article as a corresponding author: Low-spin 1,1′-diphosphametallocenates of chromium and iron. Find out more about Conrad 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?
I’m currently a PostDoc Fellow working at Los Alamos National Laboratory. My main research is into redox, electronic structure, and covalency in transuranium elements, those after uranium. As such I’m always thinking of new ligands and metal-element bonds that might be interesting and help us learn more about how the actinides interact with the rest of the periodic table. These are really scarce resources though, not to mention the radiation hazard, so I’ve got to make use of opportunities to contribute elsewhere as well. I was inspired by some work from my time at Manchester working on anionic transition metal metallocenes, and decided to look into using these phospholide ligands to achieve the same thing and see how the phosphorous would change the bonding and structure. As an added benefit, these new anionic 1,1’-diphosphametallocenates can act as bidentate monoanionic ligands for the other side of my work into actinides.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
Metallocenes are everywhere: ferrocene even works as an anti-knocking agent in petrol for cars. The oxidation (taking an electron away) of metallocenes is also a defining feature, and one many chemists will be familiar with. Whether that’s simply because they’ve seen the [Fc]+/0 couple in electrochemisty, used [Co(Cp*)2] as a reducing agent, or perhaps they’ve seen a popular f-element version like [Sm(Cp*)2]. But going the other way, reduction (adding an electron), has been barely explored until recently with the report of [Mn(Cp*)2] anions and [M(Cpttt)2] (M = Mn, Fe, Co; Cpttt = {C5H2tBu3}). The former [Mn(Cp*)2] anion is really stable, it’s an 18e metallocene – but the latter Cpttt examples were all very temperature sensitive.
What we tried to do here was use a slightly different ligand set to try and hit a middle-ground between these stability extremes, and address two problems we saw with the previous examples: 1) the steric bulk of Cp* and Cpttt help stabilize those complexes but also make the metal quite inaccessible to do any further chemistry; 2) by adding a Lewis-basic phosphorous into the ligand we have added a binding site which means we have an anionic complex where the charge is spread across two rings, and a metal of our choosing in the middle. I think this has the potential to be a very interesting new ligand set, complementary to the ubiquitous ferrocenophane class, but where the anionic charge formally resides at the metal.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
The coming year (2021) is actually my last at Los Alamos, and hopefully my last as a PostDoc. I’m hoping to make the move to run my own research group by the end of 2021. As for my current work, we have several transuranium projects that are wrapping up, and whose publication I hope will excite the broader chemical community about these elements. We’ve got some work comparing lanthanide and actinide covalency, a topic that’s really relevant now as the debate surrounding green energy and nuclear fuels continues, and another exploring organometallic chemistry right at the edge of the periodic table.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I’m currently in a halfway house towards independence. After my PhD I was lucky enough to receive an EPSRC Doctoral Prize which was a 1-year PostDoc Fellowship to do a short research project based on my own proposal, but within an established lab. I finished this and then moved to Los Alamos as a J. Robert Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow which again was to do work that I proposed to do but I’m still supervised by a mentor (Andrew Gaunt). So this afforded me the flexibility to pursue a little piece of independent research on the phosphametallocenes here. As for my next steps to independence, my work at Los Alamos working with transuranium elements has afforded me a skillset and expertise with an area of the periodic table not many get to work in. So I’m trying to leverage this towards an independent career and research group working in this area.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Have you tried crystallizing that from toluene?” – David P. Mills, in regards to every molecular compound ever. But jokes aside, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and learn from some of the giants in the molecular f-element research field, and they have all said some variation of: “Approach research with an open mind and question established dogma”. This is so important, and applies to every level of doing basic research. It can be as simple as: whatever way you were taught to do something doesn’t have to be the only way – so learn from others; to not assuming that certain elements behave a certain way and going out of your way to dispel that assumption. I know of at least one academic who tries to recruit PhD students from outside of their own research field so that they come to their lab with a blank slate and won’t be tempted to assume something will/won’t work.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
I’m a big fan of the RSC’s activities and also the publishing model. ChemComm has a really broad readership and I wanted this work to be seen and help ignite this new area of research into anionic metallocenes. On top of that the editorial team were incredibly helpful and responsive, which made the whole process really easy.

Conrad Goodwin undertook both graduate and doctoral studies at the University of Manchester, completing a PhD in f-element silylamide chemistry with Dr David Mills in 2017. He then undertook a one-year EPSRC Doctoral Prize fellowship focussed on low-coordinate and low oxidation-state amido and organometallic lanthanide complexes as precursors to record-breaking single molecule magnets. In 2018 he subsequently moved to the United States to undertake a J. Robert Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory with Dr Andrew Gaunt. His research interests focus on the interrelation of oxidation state and covalency in transuranium elements, and on organometallic transuranium chemistry. Find Conrad on Twitter: @ConradGoodwin

Read Conrad’s #ChemComm1st article and others in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow the hashtag #ChemCommMilestones on our Twitter page for more: @ChemCommun

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ChemComm Milestones – Artur Kasprzak

It is the start of 2021 and we want to talk about more emerging scientists in our community. Beginning with Artur Kasprzak who recently published his #ChemComm1st article: ‘Disaggregation of a sumanene-containing fluorescent probe towards highly sensitive and specific detection of caesium cations‘.

 

Read our interview with Artur below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
My lab is working in various areas of chemistry, including ferrocene systems, magnetic nanomaterials, biologically active dendrimers, sumanene-tethered systems, pi-conjugated molecules, and many more. We are a young group of organic and materials chemists. The compounds and materials that we create might offer many interesting properties and applications, such as catalysis or analyte recognition. All these points make us passionate about our fields of enterprise.

Can you set this article in a wider context?
In this ChemComm article we merged several topics in chemistry, namely (i) modification of sumanene, a fullerene fragment exhibiting many interesting properties, (ii) aggregation-induced emission enhancement effect (AIEE), which is a unique property that has not been commonly reported for sumanene-derived compounds, (iii) caesium cation (Cs+) induced disaggregation feature. The last point of our work is especially interesting, since site-selective Cs+ recognition is indeed the novel feature of sumanene derivatives that has been explored by my group and the group of prof. H. Sakurai (Osaka University). Additionally, it has an important wider application, since Cs+ detection is of a highest environmental because significant amounts of caesium has been detected in many radiated, post-disaster areas (like after the nuclear plant accident Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011). With our compound we can detect such low Cs+concentrations like 1.5·10-7 M !

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
Hopefully, many great things! Now, we are intensively investigating ferrocene and sumanene chemistry and we anticipate that these chemistries can provide such wonderful results as these recently published in ChemComm. My research group has recently been preparing new organized structures bearing ferrocene or sumanene motifs, so we would like to study these exciting chemistries even more and publish these results in such respected journals as ChemComm. We are always seeking for potential collaborators so we would like to expand our areas of enterprises in the coming year.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
From the very beginning of my scientific career, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with many great scientists that have been very kind and inspirational. Now, I appreciate it even more than before. I think that expanding the research horizons and scientific interests was the thing that enabled me to become an independent scientist that can collaborate with many researchers in various interesting fields. In my opinion everything is about enjoying the chemistry and seeing beyond your areas of enterprise. In my case, continually expanding the knowledge in various fields and keeping in touch with many experts really stimulated my independent researcher career. Now, I do my very best to guide my students through the same scientific career path that once I undertook.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Work hard and be creative. To me it sounds like the best way to become a great scientist!

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
In my opinion, ChemComm is the world’s leading chemical journal that publishes cutting-edge articles in general chemistry. Thus, when we considered the most suitable journal to publish these interesting results, ChemComm was our first choice! Additionally, I have also had many good experiences in publishing with RSC, because of its professionalism at every publication step as well as fast publications times.

Artur Kasprzak received his B.S. (2015), M.S. (2016) and PhD (2020) in Chemistry from Faculty of Chemistry, Warsaw University of Technology (Poland) under the supervision of Prof. Mariola Koszytkowska-Stawinska and Dr. Magdalena Poplawska. He has also spent half a year in the group of Prof. Hidehiro Sakurai at Osaka University working on the applications of sumanene-containing molecules towards the design of Cs+ recognition materials. His PhD thesis was focused on the synthesis and applications of functional materials based on the carbon-encapsulated iron nanoparticles. Now, working as an assistant professor at Warsaw University of Technology and leading a young research group (Functional Organic Compounds Group, a subgroup of Biofunctional Materials Group) he explores the chemistry and applications of π-conjugated molecules, metallocene-tethered systems and nanomaterials.
ORCID: 0000-0002-4895-1038
Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Artur_Kasprzak
www: http://zcho.ch.pw.edu.pl/skl_kas.html

Read Artur’s work and more #ChemComm1st articles in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles. Follow us on Twitter @ChemCommun.

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ChemComm Milestones – Hennie Valkenier

Our ChemComm Milestones campaign aims to highlight authors who have published their first independent research article in our journal. We were excited to speak to Hennie Valkenier about her experiences as an emerging author and her #ChemComm1st article: Transmembrane transport of copper(i) by imidazole-functionalised calix[4]arenes.

Read our interview with Hennie here:

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?
Our main area of research is the development of synthetic transporters for ions and we have a particular interest in the transport of phosphate and phosphorylated compounds, for which I received an ERC starting grant (ORGANITRA). I have always been fascinated by the possibility that chemistry offers to design compounds for any purpose and to then actually synthesise and test these compounds. This process of molecular design, synthesis, and testing allows, firstly, to deepen our understanding of how these compounds function, and secondly, to develop new materials or applications. During my PhD, I worked on organic compounds for applications in molecular electronics. After my PhD, the many health challenges that our society faces and my interest in biological processes prompted me to reorient my research towards supramolecular chemistry. This allowed me to follow my passion to design, synthesise, and study compounds, now with the purpose of transporting ions through lipid bilayers. This research has many fundamental aspects, but also offers perspectives on medical purposes (Chem. Sci. 2019).

Can you set this article in a wider context?
The research efforts on ion transport by synthetic compounds have increased rapidly over the past 20 years. The vast majority of this work focusses on only a limited number of ions (such as Na+, K+, and Cl), for which the methodology to study the transport process has been well established. The transport of these anions is indeed very important in biology, for instance in signal transduction and homeostasis. However, the transport of other ions, including phosphates and Cu+, also plays a crucial role in biology, while little or no research has been done to try and mimic these processes with synthetic systems. The challenge is that this requires not only the development of compounds that could bind and potentially transport these ions, but also the methodology to study the transport process. Nathan Renier is the first student who had the courage to start a PhD under my supervision and in this ChemComm article we show that it is indeed possible to transport Cu+ through lipid bilayers with synthetic compounds and to monitor this process by fluorescence spectroscopy. These results encouraged us to start exploring the biological effects of Cu+ transporters.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?
First of all, I hope that the different team members can continue to grow as researchers and enjoy discoveries (whatever their scale) and hard work paying off. We also hope to find new synthetic transporters, deepen our understanding of transport processes, and transport challenging ions such as phosphates. And with Nathan and various collaborators we hope to demonstrate that we can transport Cu+ into cells.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.
I am firstly grateful to all my supervisors for their continuous support combined with the freedom to develop my research projects, to try new things, and pursue ideas even if only some of them turned out well. In Groningen, Kees Hummelen allowed me to reorient my research project and set up collaborations with specialists in the field, to work at the forefront of molecular electronics. In Bristol, Tony Davis has introduced me to the field of supramolecular chemistry and ion transport during the 3 years I worked with him as a postdoc. In his group, I also had the privilege to work with several PhD students, allowing me to gain experience in supervision. Through the “Supramolecular Chemistry in Water” COST network, I met with Kristin Bartik and Gilles Bruylants from Brussels (ULB), whose “Engineering of Molecular NanoSystems” laboratory I joined to look at anion binding and transport from a rather different perspective. They also taught me and supported me in the writing of grant proposals, starting with small grants for equipment, to later arrive at the grant for my permanent research position with the national research council FNRS and an ERC starting grant, which launched my career effectively.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When thinking about grant proposals, my colleagues at the ULB told be to dream big. It feels safer to propose a project that is close to what is known to work, but aiming for something that we can currently only dream about is worth the risk. Another very good piece of advice, from Tony Davis, concerns publishing results: Tell a story. Research data is indispensable, but rationalising the trends observed and drawing conclusions that are more general and teach lessons that are also applicable to the research projects of other people is a lot more interesting.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?
ChemComm reaches a very broad audience, which is a great platform for our interdisciplinary research. Furthermore, the clear and concise format of ChemComm is highly suitable for a proof-of-concept article. I also had good experiences with the RSC, in their fair and professional handling of manuscripts. Thus, we were delighted to see Nathan’s first article on Cu+ transport published in ChemComm.

Hennie Valkenier studied Chemistry at the University of Groningen and obtained her PhD from this university in 2011 with a thesis on Molecular Electronics, supervised by Prof. Kees Hummelen. After a year of teaching in West-Africa, she joined the group of Prof. Tony Davis at the University of Bristol as a post-doc to develop transmembrane transporters for chloride. In 2015, she moved to the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) to work as a post-doc with Profs. Kristin Bartik and Gilles Bruylants in the Engineering of Molecular NanoSystems laboratory, where she obtained a permanent position as FNRS Research Associate in 2018. Her research efforts focus on the development of receptors for the transmembrane transport of ions.

Find Hennie’s work, and other #ChemComm1st articles, in ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles.

Find out more on our Twitter #ChemCommMilestones #ChemComm1st.

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