Chemistry Seminars


G3 Schrenk Hall
Rolla, MO 65409
*changes noted below
4:00 p.m. 
*changes noted below

Fall 2020 Speakers & Dates:


  • Ibrahim Abdullahi | July 20 *
  • Lab Safety Training | August 24*
  • Lab Safety Training | August 31*
  • Shuo Yang | September 14 **
  • Apurv Saxena | September 21**
  • Mousumi Bose | September 28 **
  • Dr. David J. Westenberg | October 5*
  • Austin Sigler & Sargun Kaur | October 12*
  • Harish Singh & Srikanth Balijapelly | October 19*
  • Shuohan Huang | October 26*
  • Dr. Yang Wang | November 2*
  • Dr. Renée S. Cole | November 9**
  • Ashish Zore | November 16*
  • Buddhabhushan P. Salunkhe | November 30*
  • Rushi Umeshkumar Soni | December 7*

*Please note that the seminar will be held in person following strict social distancing guidelines and the seminar will also be telecast simultaneously via ZOOM. Details can be found here.

**Please note that the seminar will be available only via ZOOM. 


Chemistry Seminar heading

The S&T Department of Chemistry presents Colloquium and Chemistry Seminar as co-equals mindful of their different purposes. Chemistry seminars will generally address a specialized audience and their content will be of a modest scope. Chemistry Seminars will come in various formats and may address several purposes. There will be talks that last for the entirety of the time, which will be given by 3rd or 4th year graduate students as part of their Ph.D. program and covering the scope of their research. Additionally, there will be seminars presented by invited guest speakers from other departments or other universities with the primary aim of fostering and supporting research collaboration. The final category will allow 1st or 2nd year graduate students, and potentially undergraduate students, to refine their presentation skills and obtain audience feedback by giving  25 minute research presentations. Constructive discussion is always encouraged in all Chemistry Seminars and speakers are asked to leave some fifteen percent of their time for a lively Q&A session.  Each seminar is announced on the S&T University Calendar.

If you are a student who needs to sign up to present seminar, please email the Chemistry Seminar Coordinator, Dr. Amitava Choudhury.


Spring 2021

Intellectual Property, Here and Elsewhere

John Woodson, Interim Director, Technology Transfer & Economic Development, MS&T

Abstract: For over 150 years now, advancing science and scientific discovery been a cornerstone of education at Missouri University of Science & Technology. In fact, the University of Missouri System’s mission states that we are to “achieve excellence in the discovery, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge”. The Technology Transfer & Economic Development Office plays an important role at Missouri S&T in the preservation (through patents and copyrights), dissemination (through licensing), and application (through finding commercial partners) of the university’s scientific discoveries. Many of the tasks performed by the TTED Office could apply for any or our students or even help them choose a career path or employer. This talk will explore the different types of intellectual property and how they fit in at the University and elsewhere.


Intellectual Property Basics; Patents, Copyrights, and Trade Secrets

Lauren Hatfield, Assistant Director, Career Opt & Employer Relation, MS&T

Abstract: Career Opportunities and Employer Relations (COER) is located on the 3rd floor of Norwood Hall.  COER is dedicated to helping Missouri S&T students and alumni pursue their career goals assisting in all stages from summer internships, to co-ops and full-time employment.  Services include student advising, LinkedIn reviews, professional development workshops,
career fairs and more!

The application of Freeze-Thaw coupled with HPLC-MS/MS and SPME-GC-MS on the analysis of emerging pollutants in plant tissues

Xiaolong He, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Emerging and fugitive contaminants (EFCs) generated by anthropogenic activities have caused a fugitive legacy threaten to the quality and quantity of food and water, which are closely linked through plants. Therefore, it is highly desirable to enable to effectively screen the plant uptake of emerging pollutants. In this study, rapid freeze-thaw/centrifugation extraction followed by high performance liquid chromatography -tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) methods were developed for determination of twelve EFCs, including Estriol, Codeine, Oxazepam, 2,4-DNT, RDX,
Acetaminophen, Bisphenol-A, Triclosan, Caffeine, Carbamazepine, Lincomycin, DEET. The methods centrifuge the sap out of the plant tissue through a molecular sieve membrane filter directly in the centrifugation tube to remove macromolecules and particulates from the sap. The sap solution can then be analyzed directly by HPLC-MS/MS. For the volatile environmental contaminants, 1,4-Dioxane and 1,2,3- Trichoropropane (1,2,3-TCP), an freeze-thaw and solid phase micro extraction (SPME) coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) method was developed for determination. Three different kinds of plant, i.e. corn (Zea mays), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and wheat (Tritcum spp) were chosen as representative plants. These methods offer ultrasensitive and very rapid green approaches to determine the EFCs
concentrations in agriculture crops, and have been applied to study the plant uptakes and distributions of the selected EFCs.

Emerging phases and phase transitions in quantum matter

Dr. Thomas Vojta, Dept. of Physics, MS&T

Abstract: Condensed matter physics deals with the complex behavior of many-particle systems. Novel phases of matter can emerge as a result of strong interactions between the constituent particles. A natural place to look for these phenomena are quantum phase transitions, the boundaries between different quantum ground states of matter. This talk first gives an introduction into quantum phase transitions and then discusses several novel phases of matter that have been discovered in their vicinity in solids and in ultracold atomic gases. These include exotic superconductors and magnets as well as Griffiths phases that are dominated by strong disorder.

What Can We Learn from Nuclear Inelastic Scattering? 

Dr. Fernande Grandjean, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Most solid state materials scientists are familiar with what can be learned from the recoil-free emission and resonant absorption of γ-rays, i.e., the Mössbauer-effect. However, fewer materials scientists are familiar with what can be learned from the emission and absorption of γ-rays that involves nuclear recoil, i.e., nuclear inelastic scattering. Because these γ-rays exchange energy with the solid lattice, information about the lattice vibrations can be obtained. First, this talk will briefly describe the theoretical basis of nuclear inelastic scattering and the experimental conditions required for its measurement. Second, the use of nuclear inelastic scattering of γ-rays to study lattice vibrations in thermoelectric compounds, specifically the CeFe 4 Sb 12 and EuFe 4 Sb 12 filled skutterudites will be discussed.

Mössbauer Spectral Study of the FePO4 polymorphs and Related Iron Phosphate compounds

Dr. Gary J. Long, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: The Mössbauer spectra of trigonal α-FePO4 , the most stable polymorph of FePO4 , have been measured between 4.2 and 300 K and exhibit hyperfine parameters characteristic of high-spin iron(III) in a pseudotetrahedral oxygen coordination environment. Between 24.5 and 300K, the spectra show a paramagnetic quadrupole doublet and at 24.0 K the spectrum reveals the
onset of antiferromagnetic exchange. At 4.2 and 16 K, a single magnetic sextet is observed with hyperfine fields of 51.36(1) and 42.74 T, respectively, with an angle,  θ, of 90º between the principal axis of the electric field gradient tensor in the basal plane of the trigonal unit cell and the hyperfine field along the c-axis. The spectra obtained between 18 and 21 K have been fitted with two magnetic sextets with equal areas and with θ angles of 25 and 85º, angles which indicate that the iron(III) magnetic moments are canted away from the c-axis; the alternative symmetry lowering of the trigonal structure seems unlikely. The reduced hyperfine field versus reduced temperature plot indicates a departure from a Brillouin S = 5/2 behavior, most likely as a result of some magnetostriction at and below the Néel temperature or 24.2(2) K.
For more details see: F. Grandjean and G. J. Long, “Mössbauer Spectral Study of the Low Temperature Magnetic Properties of FePO4 and the Mixed Valence Iron(II/III) Phosphate, SrFe3(PO4)3 ,” Inorg. Chem., 58, 13314-13322 (2019).

Bioapplications of Reversible Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) Polymerization

Dr. Anthony Convertine, Materials Sci. & Eng., MS&T

Abstract: The clinical translation of nanoparticle-based therapies is challenging because of the three-dimensional structure, complex formulation parameters, as well as the multicomponent nature of these systems. In this talk we will detail the development of the polyDrug approach in which therapeutic agents and all of the functional components necessary for solubility, cell targeting, blood brain delivery, and imaging are integrated together in a single polymerization step. This
approach, which is based on the use of polymerizable prodrug monomers (Drugamers), polymerizable peptide targeting monomers (Targamers), polymerizable gadolinium chelates (Probamers), and polymerizable solubilizing monomers (Dissolvamers) overcomes the shortcomings of dispersal formulations (i.e. burst release and complex formulation steps)
allowing polyDrugs to be prepared with tunable, linear dosing profiles. We will also discuss the incorporation of Drugamers into novel nanostructured morphologies via controlled radical polymerization (CRP). Specifically, we will detail the development of radiant star single polymer nanoparticles (RSNs) via the RAFT homopolymerization of chain transfer monomers (Transmers) followed by linear polymerization from the hyperbranched cores. We will also discuss the preparation of double hydrophilic core-shell nanostructures via RAFT polymerization induced self-assembly PISA in acetic acid. Finally, we will show pH-endosomalytic segments can be integrated into these nanostructures to facilitated the
intracellular delivery of biologic drugs.

Microscale Platforms for Low-cost Chemical Analysis and Protein Separation

Dr. Keiichi Yoshimatsu, Dept. of Chem., Missouri State University

Abstract: Intermolecular interactions between molecules ubiquitously play important roles in living matters. Antibody-antigen interactions are one of the biomolecular interactions that occur in a highly specific manner. On the other hands, there are less specific biomolecular interactions that are playing critical roles (e.g. self-assembly of amphiphilic lipids into membrane structures). It appears that biological systems have adapted a various type of intermolecular interactions in order to meet different needs. Taking inspiration from nature, our group have been interested in the fundamental science on intermolecular interactions and applied research in the areas of chemical/biomolecular analysis and separation. In this presentation, I will introduce our recent efforts in applying fundamental insights on intermolecular interactions to the
development of new microscale platforms for low-cost chemical analysis, protein separation, and engineering applications.

For more information, visit the webpage here. Find an itinerary of the visit here.  

Enhancing Learning by Assessing More than Content Knowledge

Dr. Renée S. Cole, Dept. of Chem., University of Iowa

Abstract: Skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving are frequently cited as intended learning outcomes for STEM degree programs. While these skills, sometimes referred to as workplace or process skills, are highly valued, they are rarely explicitly assessed in the classroom. Assessment serves two purposes: (1) it provides a measure of achievement, and (2) it facilitates learning. The types of assessment used by an instructor also telegraphs to students what is valued in a course. However, in many instances, the lack of alignment between instructional methods and assessment detracts from the added value of engaged student learning environments. This NSF IUSE project focuses on the development and implementation of rubrics that facilitate providing feedback to students and informing the instructor as to the effectiveness of their instructional strategies in supporting process skill development. Implementation of the rubrics provides a means to better align intended outcomes with instructional activities and supports adoption of evidence-based active learning strategies that foster skill development in addition to content knowledge.

Tuesday, March 17, 9:30 – noon, Dept. Teacher Educ., Centennial Hall 103

ELIPSS Workshop: Assessing more than content knowledge

Abstract: Skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving are frequently cited as important outcomes for STEM degree programs. However, the development of these skills is often taken for granted, and they are rarely explicitly assessed in the classroom. Assessment serves two purposes: (1) providing a measure of achievement, and (2) facilitating learning by conveying what is valued in a course. This project has developed feedback-focused rubrics that serve as a resource for instructors to assess and support student skill development. In this interactive workshop, participants will work in collaborative teams to explore the meaning and role of practical skills in STEM fields, practice assessment strategies, and reflect on how the development and assessment of practical skills enhances learning. In this interactive workshop, participants will work in collaborative teams to explore the meaning and role of practical skills in STEM fields, practice assessment strategies, and reflect on how the development and assessment of practical skills enhances learning. Participants will complete a short student assignment and analyze how both content knowledge and practical skills are developed through this task. They examine how the task cues students to provide evidence of skills that could be assessed.  Participants then use ELIPSS rubrics to assess authentic student artifacts and videos of student interactions. These activities and videos are applicable and accessible to a broad range of STEM instructors provide participants with the opportunity to explore and use two student interaction rubrics (information processing and teamwork) and one product rubric (critical thinking). The teams of participants reflect on how they could elicit and assess practical skills in their own classrooms, then share ideas with the group. 

In this session, participants will:
  • ? Explore practical skills and identify how a student task might elicit evidence of these skills
  • ? Identify characteristics of student artifacts and student interactions that provide evidence of practical skills
  • ? Gain experience using rubrics to assess practical skills in student work and group interaction 




Ultrafast Dynamics of Photochromic Molecules

Dr. Christopher Elles, Dept. of Chem., University of Kansas

Abstract: Photochromic molecular switches are compounds that change color upon optical excitation. The color change is a response to the making, breaking, or rearranging of bonds in the molecule. We use femtosecond laser pulses to monitor these dynamics on the same timescale that the atoms rearrange. One laser pulse excites the molecule, then a second pulse probes the evolving spectrum as a function of time to reveal changes in the molecular structure. Beyond simply observing the reaction unfold, sequential excitation with two, time-delayed laser pulses allows us to control the dynamics of the molecule
and influence the outcome of the reaction. These experiments probe the potential energy surfaces that determine the motions of the atoms, and provide unique insight on the dynamics of molecules in highly excited electronic states, which is an important frontier in chemical reaction dynamics.

Fabrication technique, mechanical, and optical properties of carbon nano-onions/silica glass composites

Shuohan Huang, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Achieving Superlubricity with 2D Transition Metal Carbides (MXenes) and MXene/Graphene Coatings

Ibrahim Abdullahi, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Novel Aerosol Measurement Techniques for Energy and Environmental Applications 

Dr. Yang Wang, Civil, Arch., & Environmental Eng., MS&T

Designing Correlation Consistent Basis Sets for Use with Density Functionals

Dr. John Determan, Dept. of Chem., Western Illinois University 

Analytical Method Development for Biomedical and Environmental Applications

Mousumi Bose, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Electrocatalytic processes for CO2 reduction and biomass conversion

Apurv Saxena, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Nanodiamonds and Carbon Nano-Onions Ceramic Composites and their Applications

Ibrahim Abdullahi, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Luminescent nanodiamonds are photostable non-blinking fluorescent biocompatible, non-toxic, functionalizable materials made from high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) microcrystalline diamonds, and have found application in biomedical imaging, nanosensing, quantum computing etc. However, search for more efficient, cost and time effective as well as commercially scalable techniques that produce small, bright, clean and high-quality fluorescent nanodiamonds is still on going. A novel scalable fabrication technique based on explosive fragmentation was developed. The particle size and photoluminesence properties of the fluorescent nanodiamonds obtained will be discussed. While ceramics and glasses are at the cutting edge of advanced materials and provide solutions to global challenges in the environment, aerospace, energy, manufacturing etc. There is, in fact, a need for more sophisticated approach to enable quick, cheaper and superior research and development of new material compositions for future applications. Annealed nanodiamonds yield carbon nano-onions, which have unique electrical, mechanical and optical properties. In situ generated carbon nano-onion/silica glass composites with varying carbon nano-onion concentration produced via base catalyzed sol-gel chemistry were investigated. Homogeneous dispersion, atomic parking density, residual porosity and tightly bonded particles network within the silica glass matrix influence the properties of the resulting composites, and their mechanical, optical and conducting properties will also be discussed.

General Laboratory Safety Training: University Laboratory Safety – Working Safely

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


General Safety

  • Environmental Health and Safety Department
  • General Rules/Policies and Prudent Practices
  • Fire Safety
  • Emergency Response
  • Hazard Communication
  • Engineering/Administrative Controls, and Personal Protective Equipment
  • Injury / Incident Reporting

Hazardous Material Safety and Management

  • Chemical/Biological/Radiological Hazards
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders / Cryogenics
  • Physical Hazards
  • Chemtrack Inventory System

General Laboratory Safety Training: Hazardous Material and Chemical Waste Management

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


Environmental Management System

  • ISO 14001
  • Corrective action

Hazardous Waste Management

  • Federal Regulations
  • Chemical Waste – proper storage and labeling
  • Chemical Waste – pick-up request
  • Biological Waste
  • Universal Waste
  • Spill Response


Development of intelligent stimuli-responsive biomaterials and nanodevices

Shuo Yang, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Considerable interest has been devoted to the development of stimuli-responsive biomaterials that could adopt different conformations in response to specific environmental stimuli, leading to broad applications in the fabrication of smart biosystems. Functional nucleic acids (DNAzymes, i-motif, and DNA triplex) as a novel branch of stimuli-responsive biomaterials, have shown great potential in the assembly/disassembly of nanomaterials due to their dynamic behaviors in response to external stimuli. The reversible assembly of DNA origami nanostructures by two types of stimuli: metal ion and pH will be presented. The metal-ion stimulated assembly/disassembly of DNA origami dimers were achieved by using G-quadruplexes as dynamic bridges (reversible conformation change between G-quadruplex state and its single-strand state) induced by potassium ions (K+). To extend the capabilities of DNA origami, the stepwise assembly of DNA origami nanoclusters via pH stimulation was further studied. Structure association and dissociation were controlled through a series of consecutive pH-stimulated processes relying on the transition of DNA triplex to duplex in different pH conditions. These dynamic assembly strategies, in response to external stimuli, bring more structural complexity and intriguing functions to the resulting biosystems.



Electrocatalytic processes for CO2 reduction and biomass conversion

Apurv Saxena, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: While increasing CO2 enrichment in atmosphere has raised global concerns, major focus for mitigating this problem has been directed towards sequestration of atmospheric CO2 and converting it into value-added chemicals through CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR). Electrocatalytic CO2RR is typically done on base metal plates such as Cu. However, these catalysts predominantly produce toxic CO which needs to be processed further to derive high-value products. The lack of product selectivity has also inhibited widespread application of these CO2RR base metal catalysts. Recently we have discovered that Cu- and Ni-based selenides, on the other hand, are highly efficient electrocatalysts for CO2RR, offering high selectivity towards C2-products under ambient conditions and low energy expense. Interestingly we have observed that these catalysts convert CO2 to methanol, ethanol, formic, and/or acetic acid at low applied potential with high product yield and selectivity. In this talk we will describe catalyst design principles to achieve high selectivity towards carbon-rich reduction products by applying fundamental concepts of inorganic chemistry. Detailed electrochemical measurements were performed to estimate conversion efficiency while products were quantified through NMR and GC-TCD. DFT calculations provided further insight of intermediate adsorption energies on catalyst surfaces which could be correlated with product specificity of various catalysts.

Analytical Method Development for Biomedical and Environmental Applications

Mousumi Bose, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Polymers are widely used materials for variety of applications. In biomedical field, luminescence quenching based optical oxygen sensors encapsulated in polymeric substances are gaining attention as a superior technology for continuous monitoring of oxygen. A simple and low-cost fabrication technique was developed to produce sensor arrays capable of two-dimensional oxygen tension measurement. Sensors were printed on polyvinylidene chloride film using an oxygen-sensitive ink cocktail, prepared by immobilizing Pt(II) meso-tetra(pentafluorophenyl)porphine (PtTFPP) in monodispersed polystyrene microparticles. The sensor patch along with smart phone-based readout technique is being evaluated as a smart bandage for early detection of pressure ulcer.

The environmental concerns and limited petroleum supply demand for replacing petroleum-based polymers with renewable bio-based sources completely or partially while maintaining comparable properties. Therefore, a sustainable and green approach was adopted to synthesize soy polyol-based rigid polyurethane (PU) foams for structural and thermal insulation applications. The effect of different additives, i.e., catalyst, blowing agent, surfactants, and polyol functionalities on foam properties were investigated. The focus of this work was to investigate the different synthetic formulations and potential to be used in structural insulated panel (SIP) for energy-efficient and modular building construction.

Subterranean Rhizoremediation Blues: Putting Rhizosphere Microbes to Work

Dr. David J. Westenberg, Dept. of Biological Sciences, MS&T

Abstract: Phytoremediation is an inexpensive and effective approach to the removal of environmental contaminants.  One approach to expand the spectrum of contaminants removed through phytoremediation is the use of microorganisms that reside in the rhizosphere - rhizoremediation.  This approach is attractive because: 1) rhizosphere microorganisms are capable of a broader range of metabolic activities relative to their host plants; 2) rhizosphere microorganisms can be manipulated to further expand their metabolic capabilities; 3) rhizosphere microorganisms are adapted to life in the rhizosphere.  In combination with the appropriate host plant, it is possible to maintain the population of contaminant degrading microorganisms throughout the remediation process. This presentation will describe several rhizoremediation project in my lab in collaboration with colleagues across campus.  

Simultaneous Determination of Urinary Metabolites for the Non-invasive Assessment of Traumatic Brain Injury

Austin Sigler, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health concern for which sensitive and objective diagnostic methods remain lacking. While advances in neuroimaging have improved diagnostic capabilities, the complementary use of molecular biomarkers can provide clinicians with additional insight into the nature and severity of TBI. Growing understanding of TBI as a neurochemical cascade of events beginning with the initial insult has generated significant interest in the development of analytical methods to quantify neurologically relevant biomarkers with which to assess the severity of TBI. In the Dr. Shi lab, our group has developed several liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods to quantify several of these interesting metabolites in various biological fluids including urine. Urine presents unique preparatory challenges in analytical analysis due to its complex matrix and lack of homeostatic control in its production. This presentation will cover a few of the developments our group has made in biomarker discovery, as well as future directions which we are currently exploring in TBI analysis.

Corn Seed Quality Chemical Marker Discovery

Sargun Kaur, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: The types and levels of volatile compounds emitted from seeds can be a quantitative indicator of seed quality such as germination potential and vigor. Low molecular weight compounds like short-chain aldehydes, alcohols and carboxylic acids may be used as chemical markers for assessing the seed quality since they are produced by lipid peroxidation initiated by autooxidation or enzymatic oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids during the seed storage and aging period. Therefore, a headspace – solid-phase microextraction – gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC/MS) method was developed and validated for analyzing these volatile organic compounds in corn (Zea mays) seeds. This method allowed the fast identification and quantification of 19 volatile organic compounds including ketones, alcohols, aldehydes, limonene, and acetic acid. The headspace sampling of volatile compounds emitted from corn seeds were conducted using Carboxen/PDMS SPME fiber and desorbed directly into a heated injector for subsequent GC separation. High sensitivity and selectivity were achieved with the MS operating in SIM mode. The new method will be evaluated for quick and reproducible analysis for the assessment of seed quality and deterioration.

Design of nanocomposites and nanostructures for Energy storage and conversion in Supercapacitors and fuel cells application

Harish Singh, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Electrochemical capacitors (ECs) or Supercapacitors (SCs) are considered to be most promising energy storage devices and have received great attention because of their excellent electrochemical performance with high output power, short discharging time and long-term cycle stability. In the current work, transition metal telluride/selenide-based nanostructure composites were studied for SCs applications and oxygen reduction reaction as well. A specific capacitance of 1826 F/g was achieved at a current density of 1 A/g for metal telluride electrode. In terms of onset potential, kinetic current density and four-electron selectivity, metal selenide catalyst shows the comparable performance to those of commercial Pt/C towards the ORR, as demonstrated by cyclic voltammetry (CV) and polarization measurements. In this presentation we will discuss the SCs and oxygen reduction performance of these telluride/selenide nanostructures as well as the effect of transition metal doping and carbon nanostructure additives, and explain how the chemistry of transition metal chalcogenides influences their electrochemical functionality and potential as future energy storage and conversion.

Complex Chalcogenides for Heat Recovery

Srikanth Balijapelly, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: More than two third of the energy generated across the globe is wasted in the form of heat. So, in order to build a sustainable energy source, it is very important to capture the waste heat. Thermoelectric devices are capable of direct conversion of heat to power and vice versa. Thermoelectrics are now being used in variety applications like waste auto-mobile exhaust heat recovery, thermoelectric coolers and radio isotope thermoelectric generators for NASA space craft powering. Though several solid materials have been investigated for thermoelectric activity, soft lattice, complex compositions and complex electronic structure make complex chalcogenides very attractive for thermoelectric applications. Taking advantage of plethora of mineral compositions that exist in chalcogenide family, we have targeted some complex compositions using fundamental concepts of developing high efficiency thermoelectric materials. In this presentation, the synthesis of few natural complex chalcogenide mineral compositions, challenges in their crystal structure solution, optical, electrical and thermal properties will be discussed.

Synthesis, characterization, and chemistry of two-dimensional transition metal carbides and nitrides (MXenes)

Shuohan Huang, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: MXenes represent a relatively new and quickly growing family of two-dimensional (2D) early transition-metal carbides and nitrides, which were first synthesized in 2011 from bulk layered crystalline MAX phases. Because of their 2D structure and many extraordinary physical properties, MXenes have raised a significant interest for various applications. However, it has been found that in some cases MXene flakes are not stable and can spontaneously degrade on a time scale from hours to days. While dissolved O2 has been deemed as the main factor for the instability of MXenes in aqueous solutions, we analyze the role of water as the primary reagent, and not only a solvent, in the processes of conversion of 2D titanium carbide MXenes into titania. Moreover, we demonstrate gas analysis as a powerful technique to gain further insights into chemical reactivity of MXenes. Gases produced during chemical transformations of MXenes in aqueous solutions have been collected and analyzed via gas chromatography (GC) and Raman spectroscopy. The degradation rates of the MXenes in water were further investigated depending on their monolayer thickness within the same chemical composition, as well as depending on chemical composition of the materials within the same monolayer thickness. 


Rapid Measurements of Aerosol Size Distribution and Hygroscopic Growth with a Fast Integrated Mobility Spectrometer (FIMS)

Dr. Yang Wang, Dept. of Civil, Arch. & Environ. Engr., MS&T

Abstract: Aerosol size distribution and hygroscopicity are among key parameters in determining the impact of atmospheric aerosols on global radiation and climate change. In situ submicron aerosol size distribution measurements commonly involve a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS). The SMPS scanning time is in the scale of minutes, which is often too slow to capture the variation of aerosol size distribution, such as for aerosols formed via nucleation processes or measurements onboard research aircraft. To solve this problem, a Fast Integrated Mobility Spectrometer (FIMS) based on image processing was developed for rapid measurements of aerosol size distributions from 10 to 600 nm. The parallel comparison between the FIMS and SMPS demonstrated excellent agreement when measuring aerosols with various size spectra, but by simultaneously measuring aerosols with different sizes, the FIMS provides aerosol size spectra nearly 100 times faster than the SMPS.

Recent deployment onboard research aircraft demonstrated that the FIMS is capable of measuring aerosol size distributions in 1s, thereby offering a great advantage in applications requiring high time resolution. Such a system reduced the time of measuring the hygroscopic properties of submicron aerosols (six sizes) to less than three minutes in total, with an error within 1%.

Click here to view the seminar flyer. 


Enhancing Learning by Assessing More than Content Knowledge

Dr. Renée S. Cole, Dept. of Chem, University of Iowa

Abstract: Skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving are frequently cited as intended learning outcomes for STEM degree programs. While these skills, sometimes referred to as workplace or process skills, are highly valued, they are rarely explicitly assessed in the classroom. Assessment serves two purposes: (1) it provides a measure of achievement, and (2) it facilitates learning. The types of assessment used by an instructor also telegraphs to students what is valued in a course. However, in many instances, the lack of alignment between instructional methods and assessment detracts from the added value of engaged student learning environments. This NSF IUSE project focuses on the development and implementation of rubrics that facilitate providing feedback to students and informing the instructor as to the effectiveness of their instructional strategies in supporting process skill development. Implementation of the rubrics provides a means to better align intended outcomes with instructional activities and supports adoption of evidence-based active learning strategies that foster skill development in addition to content knowledge.


Networking with Chemistry Faculty at 9:45-10:45 am via ZOOM.  Networking with Teacher Education and Certification Faculty at 10:45 am – 12 pm via ZOOM.

Adsorption studies in Colloidal Unimolecular polymers

Ashish Zore, Dept. of Chem, MS&T

Abstract: Colloidal Unimolecular polymer (CUPs) is a single chain polymer nanoparticle made by a process of self-folding or self-assembly of polymer chain to form a particle. They are 3-9 nm in size, zero VOC, spheroidal particles that are self-stabilized via electronic repulsion due to the presence of surface charges which can be anionic or cationic groups. Designing a CUPs particle to meet ones requirements is extremely easy due to the flexibility and variability it offers in terms of size, charge density (number of charges per unit area on the surface) as well as the type of hydrophobic and hydrophilic monomers. Since each polymer chain collapses into a single particles, the size can be easily controlled by manipulating the molecular weight of the polymer. It is necessary to define the limits/range of CUP formation using a suitable parameter that can be easily applied to all types and size of monomers. This will simplify the synthesis of these particles. Surface tension is an important property in coatings and can be altered by the addition of CUP particles. CUP particles reduces the surface tension of the water and is now understood with help evaporation rate study. 



Development of high temperature resistant gels using low toxic polymers for conformance control

Buddhabhushan P. Salunkhe, Dept. of Chem, MS&T


Synthesis of monolithic porous carbon aerogels without use of supercritical fluid drying from polymer-crosslinked xerogel powders

Rushi Umeshkumar Soni, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Carbon aerogels are well known for their high surface areas and high porosities with applications in CO2-capture, electrodes for electrochemical cells and catalyst-supports. They are typically made by pyrolysis of carbonizable polymeric aerogels. The latter are obtained from corresponding wet-gels by replacing their pore-filling solvent with liquid CO2 that is converted to a supercritical-fluid and vented off as a gas. The high porosity of carbon aerogels is derived from both the innate porosity of the precursor polymeric aerogels, and the porosity created by the pyrolytic decomposition reactions. Here we report a new route for the synthesis of carbon aerogels from xerogel powders, which speeds-up solvent exchange processes and bypasses supercritical-fluid drying, resulting in time, energy, and materials efficient synthetic methodology.

Part-1: Amorphous carbon aerogels were prepared either via free-radical surface-initiated polymerization of acrylonitrile on the network of functionalized silica or from polyurea-crosslinked silica xerogel powders, which were compressed into pellets, aromatized, pyrolyzed and treated with HF and/or CO2 to remove SiO2 particles and/or carbon, respectively, creating high surface area and porosity.

Part-2: Graphitic carbon aerogels were prepared from metal catalyzed polyacrylonitrile-crosslinked xerogel powders at lower temperatures compared to conventional graphitization. All aerogels were characterized using powder-XRD, Raman spectroscopy, and TEM.


Intellectual Property Basics; Patents, Copyrights, and Trade Secrets

Keith Strassner, Assistant Vice Provost for Technology & Business Development, MS&T

Abstract:  Intellectual property issues are constantly in the news – the Apple vs. Samsung, Alice Corporation vs. CLS, Myriad – these legal cases are just a few of those that have had and will have a significant impact on how universities and companies built on technology will conduct business in the future. In the Myriad case, the US Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring genes and their uses cannot be patented, Alice vs. CLS will set a new standard for patentability of software code and so-called business method patents; think Amazon one-Click® method. In today’s technology based world, it is critical to have a basic understanding of the types of intellectual property, how they are created and protected. This talk will explore patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. In addition, intellectual property policy within the University setting will be described.

Structure Determination of Five-membered Silene Rings Using Microwave Spectroscopy

Frank Marshall, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  Rotational spectroscopy relates the rotational energy transitions of a gas phase molecular system to the locations of atoms utilizing mass displacement throughout the system. These separations are generally low in energy and fall in the microwave (3-300 GHz) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, leading the phrase “rotational spectroscopy” to be termed “microwave spectroscopy.” A brief introduction to microwave spectroscopy will be provided. Spectrometers of this sort cannot be purchased, so the construction and implementation of a chirped-pulse, Fourier transform microwave (CP-FMTW) spectrometer will be discussed. Because not all desired systems are gas phase, various sourcing techniques to get liquids or solids into the gas phase on the CP-FTMW will also be presented and discussed. As an example of the usefulness of these experimental techniques, the rotational spectra of four 5-membered Silane rings (1,1-di?uorosilacyclopent-3-ene, silacyclopent-3-ene, 1,1-di?uorosilacyclo-pentane, and 1,1di?uorosilacylopent-2-ene) was observed, collected, and analyzed. The molecules were observed in the 6 to 18 GHz range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Isotopic substitution spectra for many of these molecules have been obtained in natural abundance and been used to identify differences in molecular structure amongst the family. These differences in structure will be presented, showing how dfferent functional groups and bond locations affect the overall structure and behavior of each system both quantum chemically and mechanically (ring puckering effects, etc….). These effects will then be compared to 6 membered Silane rings with similar functional groups. The behavior between the 5 and 6-membered families will be analyzed and presented.

Hydrogen Tunneling at Metallic Active Sites

Dr. Darrin Bellert, Dept. of Chemistry, Baylor University

Abstract:  From cracking or reforming in the oil industry to the activity of metalloenzymes, metal mediated catalysis is pervasive throughout society.  The reason for this is the energy cost reduction that catalysis affords during chemical transformations.  It is commonly understood that an active site provides alternant, lower energy pathways to a chemical reaction thus subverting the total energy cost associated with crossing over an activation barrier.   But what are these alternant pathways? 

    This talk discusses the possibility of hydrogen atom tunneling as another mechanism to lower the energy requirements of metal mediated catalysis.  Several years ago, the Bellert group at Baylor University developed a novel method to measure the kinetics and dynamics of gaseous metal mediated reactions.  The single photon initiated dissociative rearrangement reactions (SPIDRR) technique has been applied to various metal mediated reactions with results that defy contemporary (transition state theory or over the barrier) interpretations.  This talk will explore the possibility of hydrogen atom tunneling as the controlling kinetic paradigm in certain metal mediated reactions. 

Synthesis of Tripodal Based Chiral Framework Guanidines

Anshika Kalra, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  Part 1Comparative Nitrene-Transfer Chemistry to Olefinic Substrates Mediated by a Library of Anionic Mn(II) Triphenylamido-Amine Reagents and M(II) Congeners (M = Fe, Co, Ni): An Experimental and Computational Study. Aziridination of styrenes is examined via anionic MII catalysts (M= MnII, FeII, CoII, and NiII), supported by trisamido-amine moieties through a nitrene transfer reaction. We demonstrated that attenuated levels of electrophilicity are more suitable for discriminating aromatic from aliphatic olefins for aziridination purposes. The high-spin nature of the compounds encountered in the present work gives rise to putative metal-nitrene intermediates possessing more complex electronic structures than the common singlet/triplet manifolds explored with Cu, Ag or Ru nitrenes. We concluded – from experiments and computations – that carboradical intermediates are generated by initial nitrene-addition to one of the olefinic carbons, and play a key role in the stepwise C−N bond?formation. In this combined experimental and computational study, we present a family of anionic Mn(II) reagents that offer guidance with regards to ligand selection for effecting olefin aziridination, and subsequently extend to the corresponding Fe(II), Co(II), and Ni(II) reagents to gain insights in their comparative reactivity/selectivity patterns that enable aromatic over aliphatic alkene aziridinations.

    Part 2:  Enantioselective, Intermolecular Aziridination of Alkenes and Amination of Alkanes Catalyzed by Metal Reagents Supported (Cu, Ag) by Tripodal Ligands with a Chiral Framework. C-H and C=C bonds are ubiquitous structural units of organic molecules. Although these bonds are generally considered to be chemically inert, the recent emergence of methods for C-H and C=C functionalization seems to be quite promising. The intermolecular amination of C-H bonds and aziridination of C=C bonds represents a particularly desirable and challenging transformation. Recognizing the potential of this transformation we are currently developing guanidine based chiral ligands and catalysts for intermolecular C-H Amination and C=C Aziridination.

Guanidines are known as powerful organic bases and act as base catalysts in a variety of organic synthetic reactions. Introduction of chiral centers at the guanidinyl moiety can create new types of chiral organocatalysts.  We have prepared several types of guanidine compounds with chiral centers and are examining their catalytic activity in asymmetric intermolecular C-N bond synthesisEnantioselecive intermolecular C-H amination and C=C aziridination via the generation and transfer of metal nitrenoids is under development using Cu (I) and Ag (I) catalysts.

Smart Materials for Energy Conversion: The Story of Transition Metal Chalcogenides

Dr. Manashi Nath, Associate Professor, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: This talk will focus on the elucidating a proper understanding of the structure-property correlation of transition metal chalcogenides and employing concepts of solid state chemistry to design optimal nanostructured electrocatalysts for application in energy conversion technologies. Energy harvesting from solar and water has created ripples in solid state materials chemistry research for the last several decades, complemented by the rise of Hydrogen as a clean fuel. Another aspect that has become more relevant is the electroreduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuel or other value-added chemicals, thereby offering environmental remediation without the need to store large amounts of pressurized CO2. It has become very apparent that hydrogen-on-demand technology needs to be developed to complement the growth of hydrogen fuel economy without adding on to the process cost by storing hydrogen in pressurized tanks or non-reactive framework. In this regard, water electrolysis leading to generation of oxygen and hydrogen on demand, has been one of the most promising routes towards sustainable alternative energy generation and storage without depleting fossil-fuel based natural resources. However, the efficiency and practical feasibility of water electrolysis is limited by the anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER), which is a kinetically sluggish, electron-intensive uphill reaction. A slow OER process also slows the other half-cell reaction, i.e. the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) at the cathode. Hence, designing efficient catalysts for OER and HER process from earth-abundant resources has been one of the primary concerns for advancing solar water splitting. In the Nath group we have focused on transition metal chalcogenides nanostructures as efficient electrocatalysts for several energy conversion processes. In this talk we’ll discuss the design principles illustrating with several examples of new catalyst compositions discovered in the laboratory.

Zintl Phases for Thermoelectric Applications

Dr. Susan Kauzlarich, Dept. of Chemistry, Univ. of California-Davis

Abstract:  There are many areas of science where progress is materials limited. The synthesis and identification of new compounds that can lead to enhancements in existing technologies, or serve as the basis of revolutionary new technologies, is essential for developing new and improved technologies. Zintl compounds can be described by a combination of ionic and covalent bonding, composed of electropositive cations which donate electrons to the more electronegative components that utilize the electrons to form various bonding motifs. My group has focused on Zintl compounds for their structural, chemical, and electronic properties and I will present research on Zintl phases for thermoelectric applications such as waste heat to electrical power conversion.

Inelastic Collisions of Ozone and Argon

Sangeeta Sur, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  The formation and destruction of ozone is an important cycle in the atmosphere. An important step in the formation process is the stabilization of a metastable ozone molecule, which occurs through energy transfer: usually a highly excited ozone molecule loses the extra energy through collision with a third body. However, the details of this mechanism are still not well known and one of the reasons is the lack of an accurate potential energy surface (PES). In theoretical studies, Ar is often selected as the third body when considering the dynamics. However, there are no reported electronic structure calculations for the PES of the O3 - Ar complex. The PES of the O3-Ar complex is a 6D problem in full-dimensionality, or 3D for rigid O3. Here I present global 3D PESs for O3 fixed at equilibrium, interacting with Ar. Ab initio electronic structure calculations using explicitly-correlated coupled-cluster (CCSD(T)-F12b) extended to the complete basis set limit, and explicitly-correlated multi-reference configuration interaction (MRCI--F12) were employed. The AUTOSURF code was used to construct the PESs automatically, represented by a local interpolating moving least-squares (L-IMLS) method. Global RMS fitting errors of less than 1 cm–1 were obtained. Symmetry equivalent minima with a well depth of –229 cm–1 are located above and below the plane of O3. I will present bound state calculations of the O3-Ar vdW complex obtained by variational rovibrational calculations, as well as results of quantum scattering studies for rotationally inelastic collisions. The isotopic effect is also studied using the 16O18O16O and 16O16O18O isotopologues. Moving from a symmetric system to an asymmetric one, roughly a doubling in the density of states is observed due to nuclear spin statistics.

Advanced Pulse Techniques for Analysis and Compensation of Inhomogeneous Magnetic Fields in NMR Spectroscopy

Emma Schmittzehe, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  NMR pulse sequences are continuously being designed both to improve the current capabilities as well as to provide for new applications. In this process theoretical methods ranging from the simple vector model to more involved density matrix calculations and product operator formalism are used to predict the fate of the magnetization that will be observed with NMR. However, the reliability of NMR pulse sequences is critically dependent on the accuracy of the radiofrequency (RF) pulses, and the inaccuracies of the RF pulses are not always obvious or predictable. A new imaging protocol has been developed to independently record the x, y, and z components of the net magnetization during any point in a pulse sequence while eliminating the observation of the other components. This protocol provides an experimental method of tracking magnetization which then can be used in conjunction with theoretical methods to scrutinize the predicted outcome of each step in a pulse sequence and potentially find further improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of NMR pulse sequences. The protocol utilizes a Rapid rotating-frame Imaging Pulse Train (RIPT) on a sample with a single resonance (e.g., CHCl3) to obtain RF-field (B1) and resonance-offset (ΔB0) dependent profiles for each Cartesian component in the magnetic coordinate system.

Folding- and Dynamics-based Electrochemical Biosensors

Dr. Rebecca Y. Lai, Dept. of Chemistry, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln

Abstract:  This seminar will cover the recent advances in the design and fabrication of folding- and dynamics-based electrochemical biosensors. These devices, which are often termed electrochemical DNA (E-DNA), aptamer-based (E-AB), and peptide-based (E-PB) sensors, are fabricated via direct immobilization of a thiolated and methylene blue (MB)-modified oligonucleotide or peptide probe onto a gold electrode. Binding of an analyte to the probe changes its structure and/or flexibility, which, in turn, influences the electron transfer between the MB label and the interrogating electrode. These sensors are resistant to false positive signals arising from the non-specific adsorption of contaminants, and perform well even when employed directly in whole blood, saliva and other realistically complex sample matrices. Furthermore, because all of the sensing components are chemisorbed onto the electrode surface, they are readily regenerable and reusable. Our results show that many of these sensors have achieved state-of-the-art sensitivity, while offering the unprecedented selectivity, reusability and operational convenience of direct electrochemical detection.

Synthesis of Ceramic and Metal Aerogels from Xerogels and Applications in High Temperature Thermal Insulation and Thermites

Parwani Rewatkar, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Nitrogen-phosphorus-associated Metabolic Activities During the Development of a Cyanobacterial Bloom Revealed by Metatranscriptomics

Dr. Jingrang Lu, National Exposure Research Lab., EPA, Cincinnati

Abstract:  This seminar will cover the latest discoveries of association of cyanobacteria-caused harmful algal blooms (CyanoHAB) with nitrogen and phosphorus, especially the impact of ammonium on CyanoHAB). Our study demonstrated that expressions of genes involved in N2-fixation (nifDKH) and P-scavenging were significantly upregulated during the bloom compared to pre-bloom in Harsha Lake. The activities of N2-fixation occurred during early summer after a late spring phytoplankton bloom, and were associated with high phosphorus and low nitrogen. The highly active cyanobacterial N2-fixers were dominated by Nostoc and Anabaena. Following the activities of N2-fixation and production of new nitrogen, an early summer Microcystis-dominated bloom, a shift of dominance from Nostoc and Anabaena to Microcystis and an increase of microcystin occurred. By contrast, P-scavenging activities dominated also by Nostoc and Anabaena were associated with low P and the Microcystis bloom. This information can be used to aid in the understanding the impact that nitrogen and phosphorus have on the early summer CyanoHAB and the functional activities of Nostoc- and Anabaena-dominated or Microcystis-dominated communities, and aid in making management decisions related to harmful algal blooms.

DNA Engineering: Application from drug delivery to plasmonic metamolecules

Dr. Risheng Wang, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the natural hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms, can be fabricated into functional nanostructures through Watson-Crick base paring in biochemistry and engineering fields. Over the past four decades, researchers in the emerging field of DNA nanotechnology have synthesized a diversity of DNA nanostructures with excellent programmability, biocompatibility, and low/no cytotoxicity. These self-assembled nanostructures have been used to precisely organize functional components into deliberately designed patterns, which exhibit a wide range of applications in material science, biomedical, electric and environmental fields.  In this talk, I will present our efforts in the design and construction of several DNA nanostructures for nanotechnology and biomedical applications. For example, DNA origami-assisted cancer drug delivery, integrated hydrogen peroxide biosensing, self-assembled plamonic metamolecules, and stimuli-responsive DNA nanostructures.

Mechanically Strong and Transparent Silica Aerogel for Applications in Thermally Insulated Windows

Chandana Mandal, Grad. Stud., Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract:  A hypothesis that is under intense current investigation by the scientific community states that the mechanical properties of nanostructured polymers depend on their nanomorphology. Aerogels are nanostructured ultra-lightweight nanoporous materials with skeletal frameworks that can display a wide range of nanomorphologies. Thereby aerogels comprise a suitable platform for testing not only that hypothesis but also a wide range of other properties such as light scattering for applications, for example, in thermally insulating windows.

To study the mechanical properties of nanostructured matter as a function of nanomorphology, various shape-memory polyurethane aerogels were prepared with identical density, porosity, and chemical composition, but with vastly different nanostructures. That was accomplished based on our understanding that nanostructure is intimately related to the rate of gelation, which in turn was controlled by developing an array of new catalysts, some much more and some less active than the classic Sn-based dibutyltin dilaurate used in polyurethane synthesis. Depending on the gelation time, the morphology ranged from spheroidal to bicontinuous. Irrespective of the catalyst and its concentration, the morphology was the same for equal gelation times pointing to chemical cooling-induced spinodal decomposition as the gelation mechanism.  Based on 5 different catalysts at 5 different concentrations each, the elastic modulus of all materials followed a well-defined trend whereas, all other factors being equal, bicontinuous structures were by several times stiffer than spheroidal nanostructures, in strong support of the standing hypothesis above.

In order to develop silica aerogels as thermal insulators for windows, one must achieve a balance of clarity, strength, and thermal insulation value. The combination of the three properties was studied by applying statistical design of experiments methods on the synthesis of polymer-crosslinked silica aerogels with the concentrations of the silica precursor and the monomer of the crosslinking polymer as explanatory (independent) variables. Light scattering (haze) was studied with an integrating sphere, thermal conductivity with the hot plate method and mechanical strength with uniaxial compression. Along the way, the source of haze was identified with light scattering from secondary silica particles. Delamination of wet-gels from glass substrates during drying into aerogels was traced to the nature mass fractal of the secondary particles that allows them to merge with one another.  Based on these data, optimal synthetic and processing conditions were identified.

General Laboratory Safety Training

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T

General Safety

  • Environmental Health and Safety Department
  • General Rules/Policies and Prudent Practices
  • Fire Safety
  • Emergency Response
  • Hazard Communication
  • Engineering/Administrative Controls, and Personal Protective Equipment
  • Injury / Incident Reporting

Hazardous Material Safety and Management

  • Chemical/Biological/Radiological Hazards
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders / Cryogenics
  • Physical Hazards
  • Chemtrack Inventory System


General Laboratory Safety Training

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T

Environmental Management System

  • ISO 14001
  • Corrective action

Hazardous Waste Management

  • Federal Regulations
  • Chemical Waste – proper storage and labeling
  • Chemical Waste – pick-up request
  • Biological Waste
  • Universal Waste
  • Spill Response

Development of real-time PCR assays to detect and identify foodborne pathogen threat agents

Dr. Kelly Elkins, Dept. of Chemistry, Towson University, Towson, MD

Abstract: Foodborne pathogens including Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Shigella flexneri, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, and Clostridium difficile routinely cause foodborne illness in the United States reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Foods including uncooked or undercooked meats and shellfish, salads can cause illness. The CDC classifies these as bioterrorism threat agents and rapid, specific and sensitive assays are essential for identification and treatment. Several of these pathogens are classified in the CDC's Category B, or second highest priority, as they can be disseminated with moderate ease, require enhanced disease surveillance and result in moderate morbidity and low mortality rates. Salmonella was used to intentionally contaminate an Oregon salad bar, creating the largest incidence of foodborne pathogen illness in the U.S. in 1984 and S. flexneri was used to contaminate donuts in a hospital break room in Texas in 1997. In this presentation, I will describe the development of new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) high resolution melt (HRM) assays to detect and identify these food-borne pathogens by the different melt temperatures of the amplified DNA. Developmental validation results including reproducibility, specificity, sensitivity, and robustness will be presented. Experiments demonstrating the performance of multiplex assays targeting multiple pathogens simultaneously will also be presented.

For more information, visit the webpage here. Find the itinerary of the visit here. 


Three-Dimensional Nanotube Arrays for Solar Energy Harvesting and Production of Solar Fuels

Dr. Wipula P. Liyanage, Dept. of Chemistry, MS&T

Abstract: Fabricating high-efficiency photovoltaic devices largely rely on nanostructuring the photoabsorber layers due to the ability of improving photoabsorption, photocurrent generation and transport in nanometer scale. Vertically aligned, highly uniform nanorods and nanowire arrays for solar energy conversion have been explored as potential candidates for solar energy conversion and solar-fuel generation owing to their enhanced photoconversion efficiencies. However, controlled fabrication of nanorod and especially nanotube arrays with uniform size and shape and a pre-determined distribution density is still a significant challenge. In this talk, we demonstrate how to address this issue by fabricating nanotube arrays by confined electrodeposition on lithographically patterned nanoelectrodes defined through electron beam as well as nanosphere photolithography. This simple technique can lay a strong foundation for the study of novel photovoltaic devices because successful fabrication of these devices will enhance the ability to control structure-property relationships. The nanotube patterns fabricated by this method could produce an equivalent amount of photocurrent density produced by a thin film like device while having ~ 10% of semiconducting material coverage. This talk also focuses on solar fuel generation through photoelectrocatalytic water splitting for which efficient electrocatalysts were developed from non-precious elements.


Interface Engineering for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Dr. Jonghyun Park, Mech. & Aerospace Engineering, MS&T

Abstract: Battery performance is highly dependent on the interfacial phenomena among the components of the battery materials. This talk introduces the key interfacial physics on anode and cathode particles, and the engineering process that controls their behavior towards improved battery performance. The dissolution of the active materials and the instability of the Solid Electrolyte Interphase (SEI) are two of the key phenomena responsible for the degradation. These two phenomena, in particular, cannot be considered independent at elevated temperatures, since a significant amount of the ions dissolved at elevated temperatures move to the anode side and modify the SEI layer. The findings on the chemical degradation of the SEI layer induced by dissolved Mn ions and its mechanism through XPS and AFM will be discussed. Further, the use of electrolyte additives is one of the most effective and economical ways to improve battery performance by stabilizing the electrode/electrolyte interface. The impact of fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC), which was found to have different impacts on anode and cathode, will be  discussed. In this talk, the study on composition-/structure-dependent elasticity of the SEI layer via AFM measurements coupled with XPS analysis, and atomistic calculations will be discussed.

Novel Analytical Methods for Anticancer Drug Discovery by Using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry

Ke Li, Dept. of Chemistry, MS&T

Abstract: Cancer is a major public health concern and one of the leading cause of death. Millions of people were diagnosed with cancer each year. Many cancers such as lung cancers and brain cancers, the 5-year survival rate is pretty low, less than 20%. Currently, traditional chemotherapy is still the predominant therapy for many cancers. However, the severe side effects are the common problems due to the non-selectivity of the chemotherapy drugs. Therefore, developing new targeted anticancer drugs to lower the systematic toxicity are in high demand. During any anticancer drug discovery, advanced analytical technology must be used to characterize the structures of the drugs and evaluate the effectiveness of the drugs. High resolution mass spectrometer (HRMS) is a powerful technology and is often used for the new anticancer drug discovery. The high resolution, high mass accuracy, multiple mode of fragmentation and capability of coupling to liquid chromatography make it an indispensable instrument for qualitative and quantitative analysis in anti-cancer drugs discovery. In this presentation, several novel HRMS analytical methods will be introduced and applied for discovery of new targeted anticancer drugs including antibody−drug Conjugates and small molecule drug. The detailed experimental conditions and results will described in my presentation. 

Folding- and Dynamics-based Electrochemical Biosensors

Dr. Rebecca Y. Lai, Dept. of Chem., University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Abstract: This seminar will cover the recent advances in the design and fabrication of folding- and dynamics-based electrochemical biosensors. These devices, which are often termed electrochemical DNA (E-DNA), aptamer-based (E-AB), and peptide-based (E-PB) sensors, are fabricated via direct immobilization of a thiolated and methylene blue (MB)-modified oligonucleotide or peptide probe onto a gold electrode. Binding of an analyte to the probe changes its structure and/or flexibility, which, in turn, influences the electron transfer between the MB label and the interrogating electrode. These sensors are resistant to false positive signals arising from the non-specific adsorption of contaminants, and perform well even when employed directly in whole blood, saliva and other realistically complex sample matrices. Furthermore, because all of the sensing components are chemisorbed onto the electrode surface, they are readily regenerable and reusable. Our results show that many of these sensors have achieved state-of-the-art sensitivity, while offering the unprecedented selectivity, reusability and operational convenience of direct electrochemical detection.

Nanomaterial Assembly & Analytical Characterization

Dr. Wenyan Liu, Dept. of Chemistry, MS&T

Abstract: Nanotechnology- the manipulation of tiny elements, is bringing amazing impact on our daily lives and is helping to improve, even revolutionize, many technologies including material science, energy, biomedicine, food safety, and environmental science. Therefore, the development of novel nanomaterials and the characterization of those tiny nanoparticles are critically important in those fields. First, I present the bottom-up assembly of nanoparticles forming novel nanostructures. Fabrication of nanoparticles into superstructures has attracted tremendous research interest due to their interesting collective properties different from those of individual components or their randomly packed aggregates. DNA-mediated self-assembly is one of the most widely used approaches in nanoparticle superlattice construction, which has led to the realization of various superlattices. However, effective assembly of prescribed nanoparticle superstructures remains a difficult challenge. This presentation will demonstrate our efforts on how to use DNA origami nanostructures, serving as both topological linkers and symmetry breakers, to facilitate the synthesis of tailor-made nanoparticle super-architectures. Examples include the creation of polychromatic nanoparticles for assembly of arbitrarily shaped nanostructures and the construction of low-coordinated diamond-type superlattices from gold nanoparticles. Following this, I talk about the characterization of nanoparticles by using state-of-the-art bioanalytical tools: the detection of nanoparticles in soil via single particle (SP)-ICP-MS.


Next-generation Battery Technologies

Dr. Arumugan Manthiram, Mechanical Engineering & Materials Sciences & Engineering, University of Texas-Austin

Abstract: Rapid increase in global energy use and growing environmental concerns have prompted the development of clean, sustainable, alternative energy technologies. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are a promising solution, but electrical energy storage (EES) is critical to efficiently utilize them as they are intermittent. EES is also the only viable near-term option for transportation. Rechargeable batteries are prime candidates for EES, but their widespread adoption for electric vehicles and grid electricity storage requires optimization of cost, cycle life, safety, energy density, power density, and environmental impact, all of which are directly linked to severe materials challenges. After providing a brief account of the current status, this presentation will focus on the development of advanced materials and new battery chemistries. Specifically, lithium-based batteries based on low-cobalt oxide and sulfur cathodes and interdigitated alloy anodes will be presented. The challenges of bulk and surface instability and chemical crossover during charge-discharge cycling, advanced characterization methodologies to develop an in-depth understanding, and approaches to overcome the challenges will be presented.


Synthesis, Characterization and DSC and TGA Investigation of a Colloidal Unimolecular Polymer

Peng Geng, Dept. of Chemistry, S&T 

Abstract: CUP particles are unimolecular spheroidal particles suspended in water and are thermodynamically stable. CUP size is directly related to the molecular weight and are typically between 2.5 and 9 nm in diameter. The surface of these particles per gram is extremely large. Since any surface in contact with water will have a layer of “surface” or associated water on it. The surface water has different physical properties than bulk water. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) can determine the free versus surface water based upon the heat of fusion since only free water freezes at zero, giving an estimation of the thickness of surface water by measuring the heat of fusion. Using this data calculation of the specific heat of surface water; determination of the average surface area of functional groups on the CUP surface by knowing the freezing point depression of CUP suspensions; establishment of a relationship between CUP surface water, the molecular weight and ions per nm of surface area. TGA was then used to investigating the evaporation rate for colloidal unimolecular polymer systems. CUP solutions from 5-25% solution up to the point when the gelation occurs. Various models were explored to understand how water evaporates as a function of time, temperature, molecular weight, charge density and ionic group.



Applications of the confocal microscope for chemistry and biology

Dr. Katie Shannon, Dept. of Biology, MS&T

Abstract: Confocal microscopy allows for improved imaging of thick samples due to reduction of out-of-focus light. In this seminar, the principles of confocal microscopy will be discussed, and examples of applications in chemistry and biology provided. Attendees will learn about the capabilities of Missouri S&T’s Nikon A1R laser scanning confocal microscope and how this instrument could benefit their research. 

Ultrafast Dynamics of Photochromic Molecules

Dr. Christopher Elles, Dept. of Chem., University of Kansas

AbstractPhotochromic molecular switches are compounds that change color upon optical excitation. The color change is a response to the making, breaking, or rearranging of bonds in the molecule. We use femtosecond laser pulses to monitor these dynamics on the same timescale that the atoms rearrange. One laser pulse excites the molecule, then a second pulse probes the evolving spectrum as a function of time to reveal changes in the molecular structure. Beyond simply observing the reaction unfold, sequential excitation with two, time-delayed laser pulses allows us to control the dynamics of the molecule and influence the outcome of the reaction. These experiments probe the potential energy surfaces that determine the motions of the atoms, and provide unique insight on the dynamics of molecules in highly excited electronic states, which is an important frontier in chemical reaction dynamics.

Lab-in-a-Particle: Enginnering Nano- and Microparticles to Combat Infectious Diseases

Dr. Sutapa Barua, Dept. of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, MS&T

Abstract: Non-spherical drug nanoparticles selectively invade and kill cancer cells by enhancing multivalent receptor-ligand interactions. Breast cancer cells overexpress human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER-2) receptor proteins that are targeted for selective binding using Trastuzumab, a humanized IgG monoclonal antibody from Genentech. Trastuzumab- conjugated shape-engineered drug nanoparticles are shown to enhance multivalent interactions with breast cancer cells, release cytotoxic drug molecules and induce a significant reduction in the cancer cell population.
In a second project, we have demonstrated for the first time the effective removal of endotoxins from pharmaceutical formulations using polymer nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are shown to remove >99% endotoxins from pharmaceutical protein formulations with >99% product recovery.
We have also developed a technology to grow mammalian cells on the surface of biodegradable microparticles in liquid cell culture suspension for traumatic burn injury. An overview of this lab-in-a-particle approach will be presented as a suitable and cost-effective way to carry out treatment and prevention for a range of human diseases.

Novel Transition Metal Catalysts for the Intermolecular Amination of Light Alkanes and Benzenes

Meenakshi Mehta, Dept. of Chemistry, MS&T

Abstract: Transition metal catalyst frameworks supported by tripodal [N3N] ligands mediate nitrene transfer from nitrogen sources such as PhI=NR to a diverse group of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and olefins. These reactions are categorized as amination and aziridination reactions. Novel tripodal ligands and their complexes with late first- and second-row transition metals (Cu, Ag) with different axial atoms such as B, Si, CH, and 2,4,6-substituted benzene systems have been designed to impart weaker axial ligand field which in turn enhances the electrophilicity of nitrene potentially affording more reactive and site-selective aminated products. Synthetic efforts to generate these ligands as well as novel Z-type ligands featuring heavier Group 15 elements (Sb, Bi) placed on the axial apex of a tripodal ligand scaffold will be discussed in detail.


Rhenium Silicides: Tailoring the Structures and Properties

Fei Wang, Dept. of Chem., Missouri State University

Abstract:  Rhenium silicide, ReSi1.75, is of interest due to its complex crystal structure and potential application as a thermoelectric material. Its crystal structure is closely related to molybdenum silicide, MoSi2. The off-stoichiometry, i.e. 1.75 instead of 2 for Si, is due to Si vacancies. These vacancies are orderly distributed in the crystal structure. By doping ReSi1.75 with a third element, e.g. Al, we can tune the amount and also the arrangement of the vacancies, giving rise to an incommensurate crystal structure, which has to be expressed in a 4-dimensional superspace. Meanwhile, physical property measurements reveal that the doping also tunes the thermoelectric properties of ReSi1.75, improving its isotropic ZT value. In this talk, I will present the crystal structures of ReSi1.75 and its doped variants, rationalize the adjustability of the crystal structure with first-principle calculations, and discuss the relationship between structure and improved thermoelectric properties.

Harmful Algae, Algae Toxin, Taste, Odor Contorl, and Mitigation in Public Water Systems

Haiting Zhang, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Water-Rock Interactions in Alluvial Aquifer Systems

David Borrok, Dept. of Geosciences & Geological & Petroleum Engineering , MS&T

Abstract: Shallow, geologically-young (alluvial) aquifer systems are critical sources of freshwater for irrigation, drinking, and industry in the U.S. and globally.  Many of these aquifers are under pressure from increasing demand and from natural and anthropogenic sources of contaminants such as arsenic (As). The inorganic chemistry of groundwater can be used as a powerful tool to help elucidate reaction pathways, areas of surface water recharge, mixing of fluids, and the cycling of contaminants.  This talk will examine case studies of the use of inorganic geochemistry to characterize two alluvial aquifers in Louisiana; (1) The coastal Chicot aquifer system, and (2) The Lower Mississippi River Alluvial aquifer system.  In both studies we collected data on pH, T, salinity and bulk geochemical parameters (concentrations of major and some trace cations and anions) from 20 to 25 wells in each aquifer system. These data were supplemented with the analysis of O and H isotopes.  Using the geochemical data we were able to identify zones of recharge, including rainfall and infiltration from rivers.  Relationships between Na and Cl concentrations were key to identifying areas in the aquifers influenced by salt water intrusion or mixing with brines.  We also identified important water-rock reaction pathways resulting in “excess Na” or water in which the Na cation is in excess of the Cl anion and is counterbalanced by bicarbonate.  In the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer this reaction pathway appears to be driven by dissimilatory Fe reduction, which is further linked to the cycling of arsenic in the aquifer.  The results from this work demonstrate the utility of geochemical analyses to better understand the dynamics of alluvial aquifer systems and how, why, and where we are likely to have problems with arsenic contamination. 


Soft Chemical Route to Polyanion-based Cathode Materials for Alkali-ion Batteries

Prashanth Sandineni, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Efforts are underway to synthesize low-cost, efficient and environmentally benign cathode materials for Li- and Na-ion batteries. Polyanion-based compounds of transition metals have been actively investigated as cathode materials for Li-ion batteries since the discovery of electrochemical activity in LiFePO4. The polyanions, especially phosphates, sulfates, silicates and borates are capable of forming a wide variety of 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) structures with transition metals, which are stable and amenable for facile electrochemical Li-ion insertion. There are several other advantages of polyanion based materials over simple oxides. The electronegativity of the central atom of the polyanion due to its inductive effect increases the potential of the transition metal redox couple Mn+ /M(n-1)+ with respect to Li+ /Li compared to pure oxides. Secondly, the polyanion-based cathodes are inherently safer due to the strong covalent bond between the central atom (P, Si, S, and B) and the oxygen, which prevents them from dissociation when the cell is fully charged or fully delithiated.

The presentation will include the syntheses, structure determination and the electrochemical properties of Jarosite and new iron phosphate phases. Jarosite is the mineral name of the compounds with general formula AFe3(SO4)2(OH)6 (A = NH4, Na, K, H3O). Sodium and ammonium Jarosites were synthesized employing hydrothermal routes and partial fluorine substitution has been achieved through a solution mediated route. New iron phosphate phases include synthesis of NaFe(HPO4)2 and its subsequent conversion to Li3Fe(PO4)2 through an intermediate phase, Li2Fe(HPO4)(PO4). Both solution and mild condition solid-state ion-exchange routes have been employed to obtain the lithiated phases and their structures have been solved from high-resolution synchrotron powder X-ray diffraction data. Detailed electrochemical investigation of these phases will be discussed with respect to Li- and Na-ion insertions.


Are there Martians in Australia? How Acid Saline Lakes Can Serve as a Mars Analog

Melanie Mormile, Dept. of Biological Sciences, MS&T

Abstract: For as long as there have been telescopes, people have long wondered if there is life on Mars.  With the confirmation of the presence of water on Mars, this question can be seriously considered.  The acidic saline lakes of Australia can serve as analogs for previous bodies of water on Mars due to similar geochemical features. The microbial communities in these extreme sites can provide targets for the investigation of the possible presence of life on Mars.

Surface-functionalized Mesoporous Carbons for Electrochemical and Hydrogen Storage Applications

Eric Majzoub, Dept. of Physics, UMSL

Abstract: Energy storage materials for transportation applications and consumer electronic devices require (1) high energy density, (2) fast kinetics, and (3) reversibility. It is also desirable that they be environmentally friendly and inherently safe. For electrochemical applications, high surface area materials with both an electric double layer and a faradaic response are currently receiving attention for pseudo- and super-capacitors. For hydrogen storage applications, confinement of "complex hydrides" into nanoporous scaffolds is a powerful method to control the chemistry of the decomposition and rehydriding reactions; even thermodynamics may be modified by through the hydride/surface interactions. Our group synthesizes and investigates high surface area carbon materials with highly ordered nanoscale morphologies for these energy-related applications. Amorphous hard carbons with nanoscale morphology are easily prepared using a variety of self assembly methods or nanocasting. These carbon scaffolds may be functionalized through the addition of heteroatoms during the synthesis or with the introduction of functional groups afterwards. We will present results for two different projects in our group. The first focusing on carbon scaffolds for lithium-ion applications and the second for hydrogen storage applications. Nanoporous amorphous carbons have a Li-ion capacity in excess of 800 mAh/g, far in excess of the capacity of the LiC6 formed in graphite anodes, suggesting that it may be possible to plate metallic Li directly into the pore structure of the carbons and mitigate the dendrite problem that precludes the use of metallic lithium itself. Finally, for hydrogen storage applications we will show results for the infiltration of alane (AlH3) in the form of dimethylethylamine (DMEAA) into a functionalized scaffold where Lewis-acid/base interactions with the surface stabilize the alane. Time permitting we will discuss the effects of nanoconfinement on other complex hydrides.

K-index: a Quantitative Predictive Tool that Describes Complex Soft-matter Nanomorphology and Correlates it with Synthetic Conditions

Tahereh Taghvaee Yazdeli, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Combinatorial Synthesis of High-efficiency Transition Metal Selenides as Oxygen Evolution Electorcatalysts 

Xi Cao, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

 Abstract: Water electrolysis has become a crucial part of sustainable, clean energy generation and it has become very imperative to discover highly active electrocatalysts composed of earth-abundant materials for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), the most challenging half-cell reaction for water electrolysis. Combinatorial method has been reported to provide an efficient way to screen and discover material composition for promising OER electrocatalysis. Here, we have investigated a series of binary and ternary mixed metal selenides containing varying compositions of nickel, iron/copper, and cobalt as potential OER electrocatalysts. Specifically, ternary phase diagrams of Ni-Co-Fe and Ni-Co-Cu systems were explored through combinatorial electrodeposition and their OER electrocatalytic activity was measured in order to systematically investigate the trend of catalytic activity as a function of catalyst composition. In our investigation, we have synthesized series of transition metal selenide films containing mixed metal compositions such as (NixFeyCoz)3Se4 and (NixCuyCoz)3Se2 utilizing electrodeposition technique on different conducting substrates including Au-coated glass and glassy carbon (GC). Accordingly, the quaternary composition(s) exhibiting the best catalytic efficiency for the quaternary Fe-Co-Ni selenide was identified. It was observed that the quaternary selenide outperformed the binary as well the ternary metal selenides in this phase space. The structure, morphology, and composition of these new electrocatalysts were characterized by power X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Energy dispersive analysis (EDS). The catalytic activities were studied through electrochemical measurements in alkaline media using the linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) and cyclic voltammetry (CV), while the stability of the catalyst was probed by chromoamperometric studies at a constant potential. 

Photoelectochemistry of Nanostructure/Ultrathin Electrodeposited Metals on n-Silicon 

Qingzhi Chen, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

 Abstract: The photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy into fuels or electricity requires a semiconductor to absorb light and generate electron-hole pairs, and a catalyst to enhance the kinetics of electron transfer between the semiconductor and solution. In photoelectrochemical cells containing reactive semiconductors such as Si, the catalyst can also serve to protect the semiconductor from passivation caused by the formation of a thick SiOx interfacial layer. Herein, we explore the use of electrochemically deposited Co nanowire(NW)s and ultrathin Au on n-Si to serve as the protection layer and the catalyst for aqueous photoelectrochemical reactions. In the case of Co NWs, the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) was studied. And the Au deposited on Si was used as a catalyst for Fe2+/3+ redox reaction in a regenerative photoelectrochemical cell. The band-bending, in other words, the barrier heights were measured and found to be determined by the Si-metal junction. Furthermore, the coverage of Au on Si was also found to have an effect on the photovoltage of the cell: There was a decrease in the barrier height from 0.81 to 0.73 eV as the gold coverage was increased from island growth with 10% coverage to a dense Au film with a thickness of 11 nm. We also proved that there is a trade-off between the cell efficiency and the stability, which happens commonly among photoanode materials.

From Food Pathogen to Cancer Immunotherapy: An Update on Research Advances in LIsteria Monocytogenes 

Chen Chen, Dept. of Plant & Microbial Biology, University of California- Berkeley

 Abstract: Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive food-borne facultative intracellular bacterial pathogen that can cause serious foodborne infections in immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women. L. monocytogenes has been extensively studied as a model intracellular pathogen, which led to several important fundamental discoveries in pathogenesis, and has been developed as a vaccine vector for the delivery of therapeutic cancer vaccines. Using bacterial genetic, synthetic chemical probe, and basic cell biological tools, my previous studies had advanced the understanding of the superior immunogenicity of L. monocytogenes and proposed a new strategy for the future L. monocytogenes-based cancer immunotherapy.

Applications of Transition Metal Chalcogenides in Glucose Sensins, Supercapacitors, and Overall Water Splitting

Bahareh Golrokhamin, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Prebiotic Astrochemistry in the THz Gap

Susanna Widicus-Weaver, Dept. of Chem., Emory University

Abstract: Small reactive organic molecules are key intermediates in interstellar chemistry, leading to the formation of biologically-relevant species as stars and planets form.   These molecules are identified in space via their pure rotational spectral fingerprints in the far-IR or terahertz (THz) regime.  Despite their fundamental roles in the formation of life, many of these molecules have not been spectroscopically characterized in the laboratory, and therefore cannot be studied via observational astronomy.  The reason for this lack of fundamental laboratory information is the challenge of spectroscopy in the THz regime combined with the challenge of studying unstable molecules.  Ions, radicals, and small reactive organics tend to be produced in trace quantities, often at high energies, and therefore have weak laboratory spectra. In addition, THz spectrometers have historically lagged behind those in other wavelength regimes because of a lack of sources and detectors that provide the power and sensitivity needed for such studies. The laboratory astrochemistry portion of my research program combines innovative spectroscopic approaches that seek to increase spectral sensitivity in the THz regime with novel chemical production mechanisms for species of astrochemical interest.  Our laboratory work involves characterization of astrophysically-relevant unstable species, including small radicals that are the products of photolysis reactions, organic ions formed via plasma discharges, and small reactive organics that form via O(1D) insertion reactions.  In this seminar, I will present recent results from our laboratory studies, and discuss these results in the broader context of my integrative research program that encompasses laboratory spectroscopy, observational astronomy, and astrochemical modeling.



Ionic Liquids in Separations and Mass Spectrometry

Daniel W. Armstrong, University of Texas at Arlington

Abstract: Room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs), are a class of nonmolecular ionic solvents with low melting points. Most common RTILs are composed of unsymmetrically substituted nitrogen-containing cations (e.g., imidazolium, pyrrolidinium, pyridinium) or phosphonium cations with inorganic anions (e.g., Cl?, PF6?, BF4?). Most of these more common ILs are of limited use analytically. Consequently many ILs containing a variety of cations and anions of different sizes have been synthesized to provide specific characteristics. In this presentation an overview of the structure and properties of ILs and a description of their expanding use in various applications in separations, chromatography and mass spectrometry will be given. A number of studies have appeared indicating that ILs have exceptional promise as stationary phases. They have a dual nature selectivity in that they separate nonpolar molecules as would a nonpolar stationary phase and they separate polar molecules as would a polar stationary phase. Many ILs have exceptional thermal stability. They are being used increasingly in a variety of applications including 2-D GC, enantiomeric separations, the measurement of water in samples/solvents/materials and compact field GC units. ILs have proven to be the best liquid MALDI-MS matrix since we introduced them as such a few years ago. The properties of ILs that make them effective will be discussed.  Further, the dications developed for high stability ILs have found another novel use in electrospray ionization (ESI) MS as a reagent for ultra sensitive anion analysis.  These will be discussed as well.

General Labratory Safety Training: Safety

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


  • General Safety
    • Environmental Health and Safety Department
    • General Rules/Policies and Prudent Practices
    • Fire Safety
    • Emergency Response
    • Hazard Communication
    • Engineering/Administrative Controls, and Personal Protective Equipment
    • Injury / Incident Reporting
  • Hazardous Material Safety and Management
    • Chemical/Biological/Radiological Hazards
    • Compressed Gas Cylinders / Cryogenics
    • Physical Hazards
    • Chemtrack Inventory System


General Labratory Safety Training: Environmental Compliance

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


  • Environmental Management System
    • ISO 14001
    • Corrective action
  • Hazardous Waste Management
    • Federal Regulations
    • Chemical Waste – proper storage and labeling
    • Chemical Waste – pick-up request
    • Biological Waste
    • Universal Waste
    • Spill Response

Analysis of Inorganic and Organic Water Contaminants by Mass Spectrometry

Ariel Donovan, Dept. of Chem., MS&T & Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory, Lawrence, KS

Abstract: Water quality is imperative to preserve human, animal, and environmental health and can be impacted by a variety of contaminants including inorganic and organic constituents. They can be naturally occurring or anthropogenically introduced or influenced. This seminar will discuss two types of water contaminants; nanoparticles and algal and cyanotoxins. Nanoparticles (NPs) studied include those that are comprised of metals and metal oxides that have at least one dimension less than 100 nm. They are used in many commercial and industrial applications including food packaging, antimicrobial socks, and paint/coatings. The toxicology of these materials is controversial; thus, developing tools to monitor their introduction into recreational and drinking waters is important. Single particle – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS) methods were developed to assess the presence of five commonly used NPs in natural water and after coagulation processes, commonly used methods to remove particulate material from influent water. In the second part of the seminar, the analysis of toxins produced by cyanobacteria and algae at the land-sea interface will be discussed. Cyanobacteria are commonly known to proliferate in freshwater systems, but there is growing evidence that cyanotoxins are present along with algal toxins in coastal systems. This poses another potential exposure risk for humans, animals, and aquatic life. Advantages and limitations of the analytical techniques will be discussed, as well as results from select studies.

Highly Accurate Thermochemical Computations of Combustion and Atmoshperic Species: Comparisons with Active Thermochemical Data

Bradley Welsch, Dept. of Chem., MS&T 

Abstract: The Active Thermochemical Tables (ATcT) have been said to be one of the greatest advances in thermochemistry in the last thirty years. The ATcT is a self-consistent thermochemical network that provides thermochemical values and uncertainties that are more accurate than any individual experiment. The ATcT can consider multiple sources of thermochemical values including those generated by computation. The ATcT is valuable beyond its role in thermochemistry, because it also serves to benchmark high accuracy computational methods under development. These benchmarks allow for the assignment of uncertainty to these computations, something not commonly studied over wide classes of systems.

High accuracy computational thermochemistry involves generate multiple inputs and running several codes. If done manually there is a possibility of human error. This has motivated work on a family of codes that, starting from an approximate initial geometry, will generate the necessary input for each step, execute each calculation and, once done, process them and combine the results to produce an enthalpy of formation. Work on a second generation of a more flexible and all-one-package will also be discussed. This first generation of code has been used to generate accurate thermochemical data with a user-defined scheme for a large family of 60 molecules up to fluorobenzene. This family was also used to generate very accurate data for the alkyl peroxy family of molecules and data from these computations was used to update the thermochemical network to include this new knowledge.

Designing Bifunctional Catalyst Composites for Oxygen Evolution and Oxygen Reduction Reactions

Siddesh Umapathi, Dept. of Chem., MS&T 

Abstract:  Water splitting is one of the cleanest methods to produce hydrogen with less environmental impact. However, the efficiency and practical feasibility of water electrolysis is limited by the anodic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) which is a kinetically sluggish, electron-intensive uphill reaction. Hence finding appropriate earth abundant and environmentally benign materials for electrocatalytic water splitting has become critical for renewable energy technologies. In spite of tremendous efforts to develop a catalyst with low cost, high activity and stability, it remains a challenge to match the performance of platinum group catalyst. Hence, designing an efficient catalyst for this energy demanding process has been primary focus for advancing the technology of producing hydrogen and oxygen from water. In this presentation hybrid composites containing iron nickel selenide (FeNi2Se4) nanoparticles supported on nitrogen doped reduced graphene oxide (N-rGO), i.e., FeNi2Se4-NrGO, and iron cobalt selenide (FeCo2Se4) supported on functionalized nanoonions (FeCo2Se4-NH2-OLC) will be discussed as efficient and dependable electrocatalysts for oxygen evolution reaction (OER) under alkaline conditions. The constructed hybrid catalyst composites were capable of catalyzing water oxidation at a small overpotential and exhibited extended stability in harsh conditions. Presence of carbonaceous composite in the matrix also yielded high current density. Additionally, the catalysts also showed good activity for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) which is the primary reaction occurring in the fuel cell. This study gives a new direction to design the selenide based bifunctional hybrid catalyst composites, which can be extended to prepare other ternary based selenide catalyst composites for a broad range of energy conversion and storage applications.

Anecdotes for the Lifetime Experiences of a 96 Year Old Emeritus Professor of Chemistry

William J. James, Dept. of Chem., MS&T 


Topological Superconductors

Yew San Hor, Dept. of Physics, MS&T

Abstract: Topological superconductors are predicted to have a full superconducting pairing gap in the bulk and gapless surface states consisting Majorana fermions which are spinless quasiparticles with no charge. This Majorana fermionic surface state, if detectable, could be useful for quantum computer. However, topological superconductors and the associated Majorana quasiparticles have not been conclusively established in real materials so far. This presentation will show by chemical doping, a topological insulator can be tuned into a bulk superconductor that could be a candidate for topological superconductor. The first example i.e. CuxBi2Se3 was discovered few years ago to be a promising one. Recently, SrxBi2Se3 and NbxBi2Se3 are found to be other promising systems for the topological superconductivity studies. Several other promising candidates of topological superconductors will be shown.


History and Restoration of the Rolla Mural

Dan Woodward, Rolla Artist, Member of American Association of Art Conservation

Abstract: In 1952 Edward Sower, Publisher of the Rolla Daily News, commissioned a mural about Rolla, its creation and history, by Sidney Lawson, a student of Thomas Hart Benton. The mural hung for more than 60 years in the Rolla Daily News building in Rolla and suffered from cigarette smoke and water damage. In 2017, the Sowers’ family presented the mural to Missouri University of Science and Technology. Not without difficulties, the mural was transferred to the second floor of the Curtis Laws Wilson Library, where it can now be admired by all. For several long painstaking weeks, Dan Woodward, artist and conservator, accurately restored the mural to its original splendor – it was publicly rededicated on 4 October 2018.

In this seminar, Dan Woodward will interpret the mural, and describe the various steps involved in its difficult restoration including the unique problems encountered with the use of water, milk, and egg-based paints and their chemical proclivities.

Solid-state NMR Derived Structure: Applications to Boron-carbide Materials

Nathan Oyler, Dept. of Chem., UMKC

Abstract: Basic concepts in solid-state NMR, including magic angle sample spinning, are introduced for the purpose of discussing dipolar recoupling techniques for measuring constraints in the internal structure new materials.  These techniques will be applied to the elucidation of the local physical structure in a side product of the plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition of thin-film amorphous hydrogenated boron carbide from orthocarborane. Experimental 1H, 13C, and 11B chemical shifts and dipolar recoupling methods are used in conjunction with ab initio calculations of model  molecular compounds to assign chemical environments and determine atomic connectivities. The results of these studies and a discussion of various complicating factors will be presented.

Electrode Materials for Li/Na-ion Batteries: Improving Electochemical Performance Through Carbon Addition During Synthesis

Abdelfattah Mahmoud, GREENMat, CESAM Research Unit, Institute of Chemistry, University of Liège

Abstract: Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have outperformed other rechargeable battery systems since 1980 and advances in LIBs technology have improved living conditions around the globe. However, Li-ion batteries face many challenges and limitations. Na-ion batteries are considered to be an alternative to Li-ion batteries owing to the natural abundance of sodium. New electrode materials are required to increase the energy density of Li/Na-ion batteries. However, their electronic conductivity usually has to be improved through the preparation of composite powders ensuring intimate contact between the active material and conductive carbon. In this presentation, we report on the one-step synthesis of composite materials using spray-drying or hydrothermal synthesis routes, two techniques which are easily up-scalable[1-6].

In order to evidence the effect of the carbon on the microstructural and electrochemical properties of the prepared materials by a spray-drying [1-3] or hydrothermal methods [4-6]. The crystal and local structures were analyzed by combining XRD and 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy. The morphological properties were characterized by SEM and TEM (Figure 1). The carbon content was determined by TG/TDA and carbon analyzer. The electrochemical properties were studied by impedance spectroscopy and galvanostatic cycling in lithium and sodium cells. The reaction mechanism during cycling was investigated by combining operando X-ray diffraction and 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy.

Thermal Transport from First Principles: Theory and Applications

A. Chernatynskiy, Dept. of Physics, MS&T

Abstract: Recent advancements in the computational power and methodologies now permit calculations of the thermal transport properties of materials ab initio. In this presentation we will overview the technique based on the Boltzmann Transport Equation coupled with the perturbation theory at the level of cubic anharmonicity for these calculations and present applications in various areas illustrating the power of the method. Firstly, we will present calculations of the thermal transport in the sequence of the technologically important compounds Mg2X, where X= C, Si, Ge, Sn, and Pb. The accuracy of the method will be demonstrated, as well as thorough insight into the thermal transport properties of these materials. Next, we will turn to the materials at the extreme environment of high pressure and temperature and discuss applicability of the methodology in these conditions on the example of the MgxFe1-xO, an important material in the Earth’s mantle. Finally, we will turn to the calculations of the individual phonon lifetimes and present comparison with the experimental data where available. 

Quantum Chemical Computations Analysis of Biodiesel Pyrolysis for Production of Transportation Fuels and Fine Chemicals

Matthew R. Siebert, Dept. of Chem., Missouri State University


Exploring Chalcogenides for Highly Efficient Water Oxidation Electrocatalysts

Umanga de Silva, Dept. of Chemistry, MS&T 

Abstract: The development of a highly active catalyst for water splitting to produce oxygen and hydrogen fuel is in rising demand to fulfill the increasing human need for clean and renewable energy. However, the most crucial step for efficient electrocatalytic water splitting is the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) that takes place at the anode. Traditionally, metal oxides have been introduced for this purpose however, recent developments have shown that transition metal chalcogenides also show better catalytic activity towards OER surpassing most of the conventional oxide electrocatalysts. Herein we present how the family of chalcogenide electrocatalysts can be extended to transition metal selenides and tellurides and present a comprehensive study pf the effect of anion electronegativity on the OER catalytic properties. We will also present the investigation of composition of the active surface obtained through detailed surface analytical techniques as well as electrochemical characterizations. Nickel selenides and tellurides were synthesized by hydrothermal reactions as well as electrodeposition technique, and these catalysts exhibited lower overpotential at 10 mA/cm 2  for OER electrocatalytic activity in 1 M KOH, than conventional state-of-the-art precious metal electrocatalysts. In addition, we will present findings concerning the composition of the active surface, that answers the perpetual question, whether the catalytic surface is pre-oxidized to an oxide layer which shows further catalytic activity, or does it retain it chalcogenide composition which inherently shows better catalytic activity. We will present the synthesis, characterization and electrochemical investigations of this new catalyst and additionally, we will also discuss the stability of this catalyst during long-term OER conditions.



Ring Fusion Aromatization: A Key Step Toward Pyrolytic Carbonization of Phenolic Resin Type of Aerogels

Hojat Majedi Far, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


 Part A: Synthesis and Oxidative Aromatization of Phenolic Resin Aerogels

We describe how polymer backbone oxidation can get involved in the pyrolytic carbonization of phenolic-resin aerogels. Using as our conceptual point of departure the need for oxidative stabilization (240 °C/air) during pyrolysis of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and polybenzoxazine (PBO), we study the effect of oxidation on the polymeric backbone of four classical phenolic resins: resorcinol-formaldehyde (RF), terephthalaldehyde-phloroglucinol (TPOL), phloroglucinol-formaldehyde (FPOL), and phenol-formaldehyde (PF). Use of those resins in aerogel form is beneficial because it allows air circulation through their bulk, thus facilitating oxidation. Solid-state 13C NMR, FTIR, CHN and XPS showed that curing at 240 °C / air oxidizes the -CH or -CH2 groups and forces ring-fusion along the polymer backbone and formation of six-membered heteroaromatic systems (pyrylium cations).

Part B: Ultra-high Surface Area Carbons via Oxidative Aromatization of Phenolic-Resins: Applications as Energy Storage Materials and Adsorbents

We discovered that by introducing oxidative ring-fusion aromatization (240 °C/air) along pyrolysis of phenolic-resin aerogels (RF, TPOL, FPOL, and PF) we increased the surface areas of the resulting carbon aerogels substantially. For comparison, phenolic aerogels were also carbonized at 800 oC/Ar without prior oxidation at 240 oC/air and the resulting carbons were analyzed in terms of their chemical composition and their nano- and microscopic structures. Spectroscopic results (13C NMR, FTIR, XPS) and CHN analysis showed that irrespective of the pyrolytic route (i.e., with or without oxidation), all phenolic-resin-derived carbons chemically converged. However, 240 oC/air–treated carbons exhibited higher surface areas and microporosity when compared to non-treated carbons. For example, the surface area of 240 oC/air–threated carbons could be as high as 792 m2 g-1, versus 678 m2 g-1 of untreated carbons. These findings are attributed to the early rigidity imposed on the polymeric backbone by the oxidative curing process. Encouraged by those findings, surface areas were further increased using reactive etching (at 1000 °C under flowing CO2). The latter process increased microporosity dramatically and yielded extremely high surface areas (up to 2521 m2 g-1, by N2 sorption). Apart from potential uses as electrodes in supercapacitors, fuel cells and batteries, those materials are explored as adsorbents for CO2 and CH4 capture and separation.



Mining Water for the Production of Spacecraft Fuels and Propellants

Leslie S. Gertsch, Rock Mechanics & Explosives Research Center, Dept. of Geological Sciences & Engineering, MS&T

Abstract: A range of materials representative of carbonaceous near-Earth asteroids have been subjected to stepwise heating in a vacuum to investigate volatiles release and capture behavior in space.  Results show that most of the mass lost during heating is predictable by well-known reactions: dehydroxylation, de-hydration, and pyrolysis.  Cryotrapping has been shown to effectively capture the volatiles produced.  These findings form a base for additional investigations, so that the trade space of potential processes for extracting volatile compounds from carbonaceous solar system bodies can be explored effectively.

Shape-Memory Polyisocyanurate Aerogels and Porous Metal Aerogels as Energetic Materials 

Suraj Donthula, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Part 1: Shape Memory Polyisocyanurate Aerogels for Deployable Panels and Biomimetic Applications

Shape memory polymers (SMPs) remember and return to an original shape when triggered by a suitable stimulus, typically a change in temperature. They are pursued as cost-effective, low-density, higher-strain-tolerant alternatives to shape memory alloys. The ultimate refinement in terms of density reduction will be accomplished with porous SMP, and in that regard shape memory polymeric aerogels (SMPAs) offer the most viable approach which is implemented with rigid trifunctional isocyanurate nodes between flexible urethane tethers based on four short oligomeric derivatives of ethylene glycol: H(OCH2CH2)nOH (1≤n≤4). Formation of self-supporting 3D networks of particles was varied with specific combinations of monomer concentration, chemical identity of the diol and composition of the solvent (CH3CN/acetone mixtures) using statistical design-of-experiments methods. SMPAs showed a robust shape memory effect (SME), the quality of which was evaluated with four figures of merit (strain fixity, strain recovery, strain recovery rate and the fill factor). The robust shape memory effect of the SMPAs of this study was demonstrated with deployable panels and bionic hands capable of mimicking coordinated muscle function.

Part 2: Explosives and Thermites with Iron(0) Aerogels Infiltrated with Perchlorates

Monolithic nanoporous iron was prepared via carbothermal reduction of interpenetrating networks of polybenzoxazine and iron oxide nanoparticles (PBO-FeOx). Excess carbon was burned off at 600 oC in air, and oxides produced from partial oxidation of the Fe(0) network were reduced back to Fe(0) with H2 at different temperatures (temp), ranging from 300 oC to 1300 oC. Fe-temp monoliths were infiltrated with perchlorates, dried exhaustively and were ignited with a flame in open air. Most experimentation was conducted with LiClO4. Depending on temp, monoliths fizzled out (≤400 oC), exploded violently (500 oC to 900 oC), or behaved as thermites (≥950 oC). The evolution from explosive to thermite behavior was rationalized with SEM, particle size determination via N2 sorption, electrical conductivity measurements and mechanical strength data under quasi-static compression.


HPLC Analysis of Medicated Lens Tissues 

Justin Beltz, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Advanced Functional Polymer Materials: Design, Synthesis and Applications 

Kui Xu, Brewer Science Inc., Rolla, Mo


The Influence of Ozone on the Indoor Environment

Glenn C. Morrison, Dept. of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering, MS&T


Radiation Safety Amplified

Steven Mell, Account Manager, Canberra Mirion Technologies


Optimization of Solvent Suppression, Sequences for NMR Investigations

Annalisa Pfaff, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Spectroscopy Applications in Industry: Things I Wish They had Told Me While I was in College

Dr. Stephen R. Frey, Vice President for Technology Ocean Optics Company


Part A: Design, Synthesis, and Reactivity Studies of Novel AGE-Inhibitors and AGE Breakers

Part B: Novel Synthetic Methods for Monofluorination and gem-Difluorination

Jatin Mehta, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: The formation of the toxic Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) as a result of the non-enzymatic reaction (Maillard reaction) between reducing sugars and amino groups in proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids is associated with diabetic complications, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.  Reactive 1,2-dicarbonyl compounds are important intermediates of the Maillard reaction as they would lead to the formation of AGEs. Dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA), oxidized form of ascorbic acid (ASA), is a reactive 1,2-dicarbonyl compound that rapidly reacts with lens a?crystallin and other long-lived proteins to form cross-linked aggregates that would eventually result in the cataract formation. Toward the goal of developing effective therapeutics, we have now synthesized the thiazolium and imidazolium-based novel AGE-inhibitors and AGE-breakers that would reverse the protein-crosslinking, and studied their reactivity towards the AGE-precursor DHAA, using 13CNMR spectroscopy. In this presentation, we demonstrate for the first time that these AGE-inhibitors trap DHAA in vitro to form their corresponding adducts. Further studies are in progress for their in vivo effects.

Organofluorine compounds have important role as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and in materials science due to their properties of enhanced lipophilicity and thereby bioavailability. Recent trend in the area of fluorination is toward developing 18F-based positron-emission tomography (PET) agents for diagnostic imaging. We have developed convenient synthetic methods based on the Photoredox chemistry and the readily available fluorine-containing precursors, such as Selectfluor. In this presentation, we will outline our progress in this area of monofluorination and difluorination of organic compounds, and novel photoredox-catalyzed gem-difluorination of 1,3-dithiolanes.


Low-Coordination Numbers, Unusual Bonding, and Dispersion Force Effects in Molecules

Philip P. Power, Dept. of Chem., University of California, Davis

Abstract: The theme of the lecture concerns the often subtle effects of London dispersion forces on the stability and structures of compound classes as diverse as two-coordinate transition metal complexes (including quintuply-bonded species), high valent transition metal alkyls, multiple bonded main group compounds, persistent main group radicals, and the Lewis acid/base properties of boranes. The main conclusion is that the consideration of dispersion forces is necessary in discussions of the structure and reactivity of all compounds substituted by bulky organic groups. The increased understanding of such forces should allow their effects to be deliberately used to enhance stability and allow access to hitherto unknown types of compounds.

General Laboratory Safety Training: Safety

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


  • General Safety
    • Environmental Health and Safety Department
    • General Rules/Policies and Prudent Practices
    • Fire Safety
    • Emergency Response
    • Hazard Communication
    • Engineering/Administrative Controls, and Personal Protective Equipment
    • Injury / Incident Reporting
  • Hazardous Material Safety and Management
    • Chemical/Biological/Radiological Hazards
    • Compressed Gas Cylinders / Cryogenics
    • Physical Hazards
    • Chemtrack Inventory System

General Laboratory Safety Training: Environmental Compliance

Environmental Health and Safety, MS&T


  • Environmental Management System
    • ISO 14001
    • Corrective action
  • Hazardous Waste Management
    • Federal Regulations
    • Chemical Waste – proper storage and labeling
    • Chemical Waste – pick-up request
    • Biological Waste
    • Universal Waste
    • Spill Response

Geochemistry and the Exploration for New Metal Deposits

Marek Locmelis, Dept. of Geosciences & Geological & Petroleum Engineering, MS&T

Abstract: Magmatic sulfide ore deposits are an important source of metals such as nickel, copper and platinum-group elements. However, a decline in new world-class ore deposit discoveries in recent years suggests that most of the easily recognizable deposits have already been found. As a consequence, there is a high demand for innovative approaches that may guide future exploration efforts. 

This presentation will provide an introduction to the development of geochemical exploration tools and discuss the active research in this field in the Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering at Missouri S&T. A particular focus will be on the use of mineral trace element chemistry in the exploration for magmatic nickel sulfide deposits.

Exploration techniques based on mineral chemistry have an advantage over traditional bulk-rock methods as ore-forming signatures recorded in alteration-/weathering resistant minerals are harder to erase than in bulk-rocks. In the past, exploration approaches using trace element variation patterns in minerals have often been neglected in the search for magmatic metal sulfide deposits due to analytical limitations. However, modern laser ablation ICP-MS techniques have lowered the detection limits for many trace elements as much as an order of magnitude. This presentation will discuss how an entirely new generation of mineral-based geochemical exploration tools is currently being developed using laser ablation ICP-MS.

Atomic Motion Under the Microscope- Controlling and Analyzing Few-body Dynamics

Daniel Fischer, Dept. of Physics, MS&T

Abstract: Understanding the dynamics in systems of several interacting particles is one of the key challenges of physics. Such systems generally cannot be described in closed analytical form as soon as more than two particles are involved. This dilemma is well-known as the "few-body problem" which sets us close limits to accurately predicting a many-particle system's state. Therefore, the advancement of our knowledge of phenomena that emerge due to the complex interplay of several particles requires the joined theoretical and experimental exploration for a wide range of situations. The fragmentation of atoms due to the interaction with charged projectiles, with photon, or with strong external fields represent an ideal test ground of few-body physics for several reasons: First, few-body effects in these systems are ubiquitous and relevant to many research fields and numerous technical applications, particularly in areas such 

as materials science, quantum chemistry, biological science, and information processing. Second, advanced experimental techniques are available which allow manipulation of the parameters of the few-particle quantum state with a high degree of control and accuracy. Moreover, modern spectrometers enable snapshots to be taken of the state's change over time, allowing details of the state's dynamics to be analyzed.

     At MS&T, there is an experiment in preparation that combines the most advanced experimental methods for the control and analysis of atomic few-body systems in a single apparatus: Using laser cooling and manipulation techniques, a large variety of initial states are created, ranging from single excited or polarized lithium atoms to large ensembles of atoms that are cooled down to micro-Kelvin temperatures and even to quantum-degeneracy. For the analysis, a "reaction microscope" will is employed allowing the coincident measurements of the momentum vectors of atomic fragments after ionization of the atoms. In essence, there are three fundamental questions to be addressed in the experiments: First, how do the ionization dynamics depend on the relative orientation (or helicity) of an ionizing laser field and a polarized target atom? Such experiments will help to understand fundamental symmetries and ultimately control the interaction of laser fields with chiral (atomic or molecular) targets, which play a crucial role e.g. in biochemistry. Second, how is the disintegration of an atom due to the interaction with an ionizing field influenced by its environment? This is experimentally only studied for clusters or solid targets, but largely unexplored for more dilute systems. Apart from the fundamental importance of this question, the dependence of the ionization dynamics on the environment is relevant to the understanding of the damage of biological tissue due to radiation. Finally, how does the correlated wave function of a few-particle system change as a function of the particle number and interaction type and strength? The possibility to "engineer" simple few-body systems and observe such systems comprehensively would allow one to "simulate" and understand fundamental quantum phenomena that occur in natural or artificial material.

Role of Mössbauer Spectroscopy and X-ray Diffraction in the Study of Prussian Blue Pigment Fading

Gary J. Long, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: The two Prussian blue compounds, the so-called “soluble” KFeIII[FeII(CN)6xH2O and “insoluble” FeIII4[FeII(CN)6]3·xH2O have long been important in understanding the intervalent charge transfer transitions observed in mixed valence compounds. This transition is responsible for the intense blue colour of the Prussian blue pigments often used by artists from shortly after their discovery in 1704 to well into the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, these pigments often fade with time when exposed to light. Our long-term goal has been to obtain a better understanding of this fading of “ancient” Prussian blue pigments. Although there is an extensive literature dealing with Prussian blues, it was soon apparent that there was vast variations in the Mössbauer-spectral properties reported for often unspecified or poorly characterized compounds or pigments. Thus in reaching our goal it soon became apparent that we needed a far better understanding of the properties of modern Prussian blues and their associated pigments.

My talk will illustrate how we have obtained an improved understanding of the modern Prussian blue properties through a variety of experimental studies [1-6] and will concentrate on our Rietveld, pair-distribution, and Williamson-Hall strain analyses of high-resolution powder x-ray diffraction patterns of well characterized Prussian blues in order to explain why such a wide variation in their Mössbauer spectra is found in the literature. More specifically, our work has shown that the strain induced in Prussian blues through their extremely rapid precipitation from solution can account, at least in part, for the wide variation in their observed Mössbauer spectra.

Cancer Biomarker Discovery Using Urinary Metabolomics and Advanced Analytical Techniques:

Achievement and New Challenges

Yinfa, Center for Biomedical Reserach, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: Metabolomics has emerged as a transformative approach to cancer bio-marker discovery owing to the intimate connection between oncogenic transformation and cellular metabolism. Heightened focus on developing molecular biomarkers that may be screened using minimally invasive point-of-care assays has prompted serious efforts into the application of urinary metabolomics for early cancer detection. Current research efforts have identified a multitude of putative metabolic biomarkers with limited clinical performance which has been attributed to challenges in urine normalization, natural metabolic variations, and poor disease specificity. Our research team has proposed the novel application of multi-marker panels that combine molecular biomarkers with clinically relevant patient information to improve biomarker performance. The biomarker panels, techniques, clinical results, and challenges, will be presented at the seminar.


Drug the Undruggable: from Nature to Precision Cancer Medicine

Liang Xu, Dept. of Molecular Biosciences & Dept. of Radiation Oncolory, University of Kansas

Abstract: The RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) Musashi-1 (Msi1) and Hu antigen R (HuR) are emerging therapeutic targets for cancer and cancer stem cells. So far there is limited success on small molecules that directly inhibit Msi1 and HuR. RBPs such as Msi1 and HuR are considered "undruggable" due to the lack of a well-defined binding pocket for target RNA. Since relocation to the University of Kansas in 2010, I established a multidisciplinary cancer drug discovery team to "drug the undruggable" Msi1 and HuR. Through a contemporary, structure-based, multidisciplinary and integrated drug discovery approach, we identified promising hits and initial lead compounds with sub-microM Ki values. With two funded NCI R01 grants and one DOD grant, we are employing structure-based rational design for lead optimization and target validation to discover novel compounds that inhibit the so far undruggable Msi1 and HuR, aiming to develop it as an entirely new class of molecular-targeted anti-cancer drugs.



Microwave Spectroscopic Models for Hydrogen Storage in Metal Organic Frameworks

Stewart E. Novick with Daniel A. Obenchain, G.S. Grubbs II, and Herbert M. Pickett

Departments of Chemistry Wesleyan University Middletwon, Conneticut, and MS&T

Abstract: The microwave spectra of molecular hydrogen bound to metal halides, including H2 CuF, H2 AgCl, HD AgCl, D2 AgCl, H2 AuCl, and H2 CuCl, have been studied using Cavity Fourier transform microwave (FTMW) spectroscopy. The complexes are T-shaped with the H-H as the cross of the T with the metal atom closest to the hydrogen. The molecular hydrogen is bound to the metal strongly enough such that the properties (bond lengths and electronic environments) of the binding partners are perturbed from their monomeric values, but not so strongly that the H-H bond breaks to form dihydrides with the metal. We suggest that H2 binds in this way to metal centers in metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which can be utilized to store hydrogen gas.


Epitaxial Lift-off of Electrodeposited Single-Crystal Gold Foils for Flexible Electronics

Jay A. Switzer, Dept. of Chem. & Graduate Center for Materials Research, MS&T

Abstract: Single-crystal silicon is the industry standard for electronic devices because of its high crystalline order and abundance. However, the brittle nature of bulk silicon precludes its use in flexible electronics. I will discuss a simple and inexpensive procedure for epitaxial lift-off of wafer-size flexible and transparent foils of single-crystal Au using Si(111) as a template. Lateral electrochemical undergrowth of a sacrificial SiOx layer was achieved by photoelectrochemically oxidizing n-Si(111) under light irradiation. Cu2O as an inorganic semiconductor was epitaxially electrodeposited onto the Au foils, which showed a more ideal diode quality factor of 1.6 (where n=1 is ideal) than the value of 3.1 observed for a polycrystalline deposit. ZnO nanowires electrodeposited epitaxially on a Au foil showed flexibility with the nanowires intact up to 500 bending cycles. A 28 nm Au foil with a sheet resistance of 7 Ω.sq-1 showed only a 4% increase in resistance after 4000 bending cycles. A flexible organic light-emitting diode based on tris(bipyridyl)ruthenium(II) was spin-coated on a foil to exploit the transmittance and flexibility of the gold foil. The simple epitaxial lift-off procedure produces single-crystal Au foils that offer the order of traditional semiconductors such as Si wafers without the constraint of a rigid substrate.


The Influence of the Contamination Found in Mine Tailings on Plant Growth

Joel G. Burken, Dept. of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering , MS&T


pH Measurements Using Fluorine-19 NMR Spectroscopy

Ming Huan, Dept. of Chem., MS&T

Abstract: The pH of an NMR sample can be measured directly by NMR experiments of signal intensities, chemical shift, or relaxation time constants that depend on the pH. In the work presented here, an NMR technique was utilized based on 19F chemical shifts. For example, the chemical shift of the anion F in aqueous NaF or KF solutions changes throughout the range of pH 1 to 14 but most pronounced in the acidic range between pH  =1 and 5. Adding F- as a micro-sensor compound to solutions in NMR tubes makes it possible to accurately determine pH value in situ from 19F chemical shifts. Because pH micro-sensor compounds added to an aqueous solution have an influence on the pH, only a minimum amount of an NMR micro-sensor compound should be added to the sample. A minimum number of 4 × 1016 nuclei was found to be sufficient for NMR signal observation using a 400-MHz spectrometer. Temperature-dependent NMR experiments were conducted to establish calibration curves through which the influence of temperature on the chemical shift can be corrected. The 19F signal of external reference solution (trifluoroacetic acid) was found to have the least temperature-dependent chemical-shift variation and is suggested as independent standard for temperature-correction curves.


Analysis of Nanoparticle Cytotoxicity in Yeast Cells Using SC-ICPMS

Lindsey K. Rasmussen, Dept. of Chem., MS&T


Harmful Algal Blooms: Symptoms of Ecological Imbalance & Ecosystem Integration

Dr. Keith Loftin, Organic Geochmistry Research Laboratory & U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS

Abstract: Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs), currently (2017) appear be the dominant type of HABs in inland waters of the U.S.  In addition to causing ecological impairment and aesthetic issues, cyanoHABs can also produce a range of toxins with a range of symptoms including dermatitis, gastroenteritis, respiratory system depression, and even death in extreme cases of exposed animals and humans.  Research published over the last decade has demonstrated that cyanotoxins and cyanoHABs are found across the country in every surface water type including lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams, wetlands, and coastal waters at concentrations of human and ecological health concern.   An U.S. Federal and State agency collaboration called CyAN (Cyanobacteria Assessment Network) is developing a national HAB database and satellite network attempting to provide early warnings of HAB events in lakes and reservoirs across the U.S.  One objective of the CyAN project is to provide a systematic, nationwide capability to evaluate HAB frequency, distribution, and magnitude over appropriate time scales for adaptive management.  Most environmental issues are managed from a dissolved-phase contaminant standpoint which is publically invisible and resource intensive. HAB proliferation is a result of many adverse environmental issues we currently attempt to manage separately.  Visible adverse outcomes such as HABs that are also scientifically measureable 


Seminar Archives : 2007-2016