University of Wyoming
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Research

The research interests of our group lie at the intersection of supramolecular chemistry, organometallic chemistry, and spectroscopy. All of our projects are interdisciplinary.

Current research projects include:
1. supramolecular porphyrin-DNA nanostructures
We explore chiral multichromophoric nanoarrays with attractive structural and photophysical properties formed by oligonucleotide controlled assembly of chromophores. We use external stimuli induced structural transitions to tune their functional properties.
representative reference:
Formation and helicity control of ssDNA templated porphyrin nanoassemblies.
G. Sargsyan, A. A. Schatz, J. Kubelka, M. Balaz
Chem. Commun., 2013, 49, 1020-1022.

2. enhanced circular dichroism detection of chiral biomolecules
Our long-term goal is to develop organic and inorganic spectroscopic probes to enhance the sensitivity of electronic circular dichroism. Enhanced sensitivity will allow the study of chiral molecules and their interactions at low, biologically relevant concentrations.
representative reference:
Sulfonated Ni(II)porphyrin improves the detection of Z-DNA in condensed and non-condensed BZB DNA sequences.
A. E. Holmes, J. Kyu Choi, J. Francis, A. D'Urso, M. Balaz
J. Inorg. Biochem., 2012, 110, 18-20.

3. semiconductor quantum dots (QDs)
We work on the synthesis of quantum dots for solar cells. Our research is a part of a DOE EPSCoR funded project (PI: Wenyong Wang, Physics and Astronomy, University of Wyoming). We also explore chiroptical and chirophotonic properties of QDs.
representative reference:
Ligand induced circular dichroism and circularly polarized luminescence in CdSe quantum dots.
U. Tohgha, K. K. Deol, A. G. Porter, S. G. Bartko, J. K. Choi, B. M. Leonard, K. Varga, J. Kubelka, G. Muller, M. Balaz
ACS Nano., 2013, 7, 11094-11102.

      A variety of techniques and approaches are utilized in our research. Graduate students are trained in the areas of synthetic organic chemistry, molecular recognition, supramolecular assemblies, organometallic chemistry, metallic nanoparticles, DNA and peptide synthesis, and quantum dots.
      We use a range of spectroscopic techniques such as NMR, circular dichroism, fluorescence spectroscopy, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, linear dichroism, resonance light scattering, and dynamic light scattering. We also employ TEM and AFM to characterize our supramolecular nanostructure, DNA assemblies, metallic nanoparticles, and quantum dots.
      In routine use, two methods of mass spectrometry are employed for molecular weight determination: MALDI-TOF (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization - time of flight) and ESI (electrospray ionisation).
      Our main purification techniques include flash column chromatography, reverse phase HPLC, size exclusion chromatography (SEC), and gel electrophoresis (PAGE).

Research support:

  • Center for Photoconversion and Catalysis (CPAC)
  • DOE EPSCoR (Department of Energy Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research)
  • School of Energy Resources Graduate Assistantship
  • UW EPSCoR Undergraduate Student Research Grant Award
  • University of Wyoming Start-up funds