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UW’s Clennan Receives NSF Grant to Create New Type of Molecule

November 2, 2018
head portrait of a man
Ed Clennan, a UW professor of chemistry, recently received a three-year $490,000 NSF grant to create a new type of molecule that will be able to emit a type of light that has many applications in the biomedical field. (UW Photo)

A University of Wyoming chemistry professor received a $490,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to create a new type of molecule that will be able to emit a type of light that has many applications in the biomedical field.

Ed Clennan, a UW professor of chemistry, is principal investigator of the grant that runs through July 12, 2021.

“We are making a new type of molecule called heli-acenes,” Clennan says of the research taking place in the UW Physical Sciences Building. “These molecules are made via a series of manipulations, or synthetic steps, using small molecular precursors.”

The success of these manipulations is verified by X-ray crystallography and by other instrumental tools, such as the nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, he says.

“We anticipate these molecules will have applications for use in organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs),” Clennan says. “Basically, OLEDs emit light. We anticipate that our new molecules will emit a special type of light called circularly polarized light. This type of light has many applications in the biomedical field.”

OLEDs are used to create digital displays in television screens, computer monitors and portable systems, such as smartphones, hand-held game consoles and personal digital assistants.

Clennan has been working with Caleb Hill, a UW assistant professor of chemistry, who will use the molecules they make to fabricate an OLED. Clennan is working with UW attorneys to submit a provisional patent for the research.

Clennan’s research team includes Jacob Weber, a graduate student from Durango, Colo.; and undergraduate students Taylor Weddle, a junior from West Point, Neb., majoring in chemical engineering; and Jewel Jackson, a chemistry major from Douglas. Clennan is directing the students, who are conducting the experiments.

Clennan says he is seeking more undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral researchers for the research team.

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