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Seton Hall University

Sergiu M Gorun, Ph.D.

Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

My research group, affiliated with the Center for Functional Materials is interested in bioinorganic chemistry, broadly defined as bioinspired chemistry, a term I have coined. We create "artificial enzymes" by modeling their active sites using relatively small organic molecules, rationally modified to produce catalytic materials with enhanced chemical and thermal resistance, as well as broadened reactivity spectrum. The projects are highly interdisciplinary, requiring skills in organic synthesis, inorganic synthesis, advanced chromatographic, separations vibrational, electronic and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, single-crystal X-ray diffraction, electrochemistry and spectroelectrochemistry, magnetochemistry, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, photochemistry, biological and biomedical applications. Not all projects require all skills, but all students are exposed to a comprehensive package of techniques. The group collaborates with colleagues with expertise in computational chemistry, advanced characterization techniques such as magnetic circular dichroism, solid-state, surface science, biochemical and biological applications using cells, algae and bacteria.

Current efforts are aimed at developing chemically and photochemically active metal complexes whose weak C-H bonds have been replaced by strong C-F bonds. The new materials photo activate molecular oxygen from air via either electron or energy transfer, in the latter case producing singlet oxygen and other reactive species in the absence of any other chemicals. The organic ligands used, phthalocyanines, are similar to hemes and chlorophylls, but they have been modified to contain C-F groups, and, more recently, basic (-NH2) and acidic (-COOH) substituents. These substituents allow the photoactive phthalocyanines to be anchored on solid-state supports, such as metal oxides, and to be bioconjugated with polypeptides, vectors specifically aimed at biological targets such cancerous cells.

The group integrates undergraduate, graduates and post-graduate students, as well as visiting scientists. Members participate in grant applications and interact with colleagues from US, Belgium, Canada, Germany universities, as well with Federal Government scientists. Their scholarly output is captured in publications and US and International patents.