Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Boron Cluster Building Blocks and Synthetic Reagents
200 years of research with carbon-rich molecules have shaped the development of modern chemistry. Research pertaining to the chemistry of boron-rich species has historically trailed behind its more distinguished neighbor (carbon) in the periodic table. Most importantly, a potentially rich and, in many cases, unmatched field of using boron-rich clusters in materials science remains fundamentally underdeveloped. Spokoyny’s work is devoted to examining several basic concepts related to the functionalization of polyhedral boron-rich clusters and their use as unique building blocks for materials with applications ranging from catalysis to modulating protein-biomolecule interactions.
These clusters are particularly interesting because they can be regarded as three-dimensional (3D) analogs of benzene. The unique chemical and physical properties of these species, such as rigidity, inertness, and 3D aromaticity, allow one to access a set of properties not normally available in carbon-based chemistry. Over the past several years, Spokoyny and his group have demonstrated how these clusters can be used to create a new class of organic light-emitting diode materials, extremely powerful photo-oxidant reagents for polymerization and doping, unique building blocks for stabilization of surfaces, and atomically-precise nanoparticle surrogates featuring improved stabilities in biological media. This presentation will focus on several of these recent developments, highlighting new directions for these clusters, including potential applications in chemistry and materials science.
Dr. Alex Spokoyny currently serves as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA and a faculty member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). Prior to this, he received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Inorganic and Materials Chemistry and completed a post-doctoral stint at MIT in Chemical Biology. His group’s research encompasses an interdisciplinary approach focusing on pressing problems in chemistry, medicine, and materials science, with emphasis on developing new molecular cluster chemistry. Alex is a recipient of multiple awards, including the recent NSF CAREER Award (2019),
Cottrell Scholar Award (2018), Maximizing Investigator’s Research Award (MIRA) from the NIH
(2017) and Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2017).