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Current efforts are aimed at developing chemically and photochemically active metal complexes whose weak C-H bonds have been replaced by strong C-F bonds.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.
- Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chemistry
- M. Phil., Columbia University, Chemistry
- M.S., Polytechnic Institute, Bucharest, Romania, Physical Chemistry
- B.S., University of Bucharest, Romania
- "Photoelectrochemical Behavior of Phthalocyanine-Sensitized TiO2 in the Presence of Electron-Shuttling Mediators" Analytical Chemistry 94(37), 12723-12731 (2022).
- "The Role of Singlet Oxygen, Superoxide, Hydroxide, and Hydrogen Peroxide in the Photoelectrochemical Response of Phenols at a Supported Highly Fluorinated Zinc Phthalocyanine" ChemElectroChem 9(6), e202200108 (2022).
- "Correlation between the Fluorination Degree of Perfluorinated Zinc Phthalocyanines, Their Singlet Oxygen Generation Ability, and Their Photoelectrochemical Response for Phenol Sensing" Analytical Chemistry 94(13), 5221-5230 (2022).
- "Nanobody-Based Immunosensor Detection Enhanced by Photocatalytic-Electrochemical Redox Cycling" Analytical Chemistry 93(40), 13606-13614 (2021).
- “Electron and Ion Transport in Mixed Electrochromic Thin Films of Perfluorinated Phthalocyanines” Electrochimica Acta 377, 138065 (2021).
- “Electronic, molecular, and solid-state structural effects of strong electron withdrawing and donating groups in functionalized fluorophthalonitriles” Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines 25, 224 (2021).
- “Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Detection of an Analyte Triggered by Its Concentration
by a Singlet Oxygen-
Generating Fluoro Photosensitizer” ACS Sensors 5, 3501 (2020).
- “The influence of intermolecular coupling on electron and ion transport in differently substituted phthalocyanine thin films as electrochromic materials: a chemistry application of the Goldilocks principle” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 22, 7699 (2020).
This article received VIP status and was featured on the Journal front cover page
- “Optimized Photoelectrochemical Detection of Essential Drugs Bearing Phenolic Groups” Analytical Chemistry (Washington, DC) 91, 9962 (2019)
- “Photoreactive Superhydrophobic Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Materials Composed of Polyvinylidene Fluoride and Titanium Dioxide Supported Perfluorinated Phthalocyanines” ACS Applied Polymer Materials 1, 1514 (2019).
- "Fluoroalkyl phthalocyanines: Bioinspired catalytic materials" Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines 22, 371 (2018).
This review was assigned VIP status and the Journal Cover
- "Synthesis and X-ray structure of a fluorinated 1,1-dialkoxy-3-iminoisoindoline acetal, an elusive phthalocyanine precursor" Tetrahedron 74, 3697 (2018).
- "Synthesis and Photophysical and Photocatalytic Properties of a Highly Fluorinated and Durable Phthalocyanine–Peptide Bioconjugate for Potential Theranostic Applications" Inorganic Chemistry 56, 7210 (2017).
- "Singlet oxygen based electrosensing by molecular photosensitizers" Nature Communications 8, 16108 (2017).
- "Electron Paramagnetic Resonance and DFT Analysis of the Effects of Bulky Perfluoroalkyl Substituents on a Vanadyl Perfluoro Phthalocyanine". Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie 231, 887 (2017).
- "Mixed Alkyl-Perfluoroalkyl Silver Scorpionates: Synthesis, X-ray Structures and Stabilizing Substituent Effects" European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry 2016, 2648 (2016).
- "Group III Perfluoroalkyl Perfluoro Phthalocyanines" Journal of Porphyrins Phthalocyanines 20, 1401 (2016).
- "Switching of the Rate-limiting Step in the Electrochromic Reduction of Fluorinated Phthalocyanine Thin Films by Decreased Intermolecular Coupling" Electrochimica Acta 157, 232 (2015).
- "Chemically robust fluoroalkyl phthalocyanine-oligonucleotide bioconjugates and their GRP78 oncogene photocleavage activity" Chemical Communications 50, 6309 (2014).
This article received VIP status and was featured on the Journal front cover page
- "Photoreduction and light-induced triplet-state formation in a single-site fluoroalkylated zinc phthalocyanine" Dalton Transaction 43,14942 (2014).
This article received VIP status of the Journal's themed issue: "Inorganic chemistry for renewable energy conversion and storage" and was featured on the Journal front cover page
Recent, Issued Patents
- Patent allowed 2021
Photoactive Polymer Coatings
Methods and Apparatus for Analyte Detection Using Fluorinated Phthalocyanines
Stabilized and reactive fluorinated phthalocyanine-functionalized solid-state support composites
Process for oxidation of amines in the synthesis of energetic materials
Functionalized fluorine containing phthalocyanine molecules
Self-cleaning protective coatings
Fluorophthalocyanine photodynamic water sterilization
Thin film applications of perfluoroisopropyl-substituted perfluorophthalocyanines
Recent, Major Grants
- Defense Threat Reduction Agency (2020 – 2023)
- US Army (3 awards)
- National Science Foundation (1 standard 3 year award, 2 high-risk EAGER awards, 1 supplement)
- US Air Force (SBIR Phase 1, Phase 2 and 1 supplement)
- National Science Foundation, Major Research Instrumentation (non-PI contributor, Rutgers University lead institution), 2021
- Department of Defense, Major Research Instrumentation (non-PI contributor, CUNY lead
Student grants and fellowship awards
- Internally reviewed, undergraduate students: Clare Boothe Luce (twice), NJ Space Consortium (thrice)
- Externally reviewed, undergraduate students: PSEG Scholarship for Advancing STEM Majors, Celgene's Sol J. Barer Scholarship for Life Sciences, Novartis Science Scholarships (twice), others, standards, also administered by the Independent College Fund of New Jersey. Student Leadership Award, American Chemical Society.
- Externally reviewed, graduate students: 2016 John J. LaGrosa Award of the New Jersey Water Environment Association
- Other, internal student awards: best Ph.D. Thesis, B.S. Honor theses.
Recent invited presentations at major international meetings and recognition
- Tenth International Conference on Porphyrins & Phthalocyanines - Munich, Germany, 2018
- The 22nd International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry - Oxford University, UK, 2018
- 9th International Conference on Green Chemistry and Technology - Rome, Italy, 2017.
- 2020 and 2014 Researcher of the Year, Seton Hall University
- Board member, Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines
- Cover story New Jersey Business Magazine "Colleges and universities are leveraging federal monies"