Our goal is to design new molecules and materials for applications in nanocatalysis, computer and communication technologies, memory devices and super-resolution bioimaging.
We explore phenomena engineered around the ability of molecules or nanoparticles to absorb and emit photons. Our efforts are directed to developing photoresponsive chemical tools to solve problems in materials and biological sciences, including metal and carbon nanoparticles, MOFs and synthetic molecular switches. Our objective is to manipulate reactivity and selected properties of organic molecules using metallic nanostructures to enhance chemical and physical properties at the single molecule/single particle level. We often combine steady-state and benchtop investigations with single molecule (SM) microscopy, a ground-breaking tool to understand reactions mechanisms and kinetics.
Our interests and projects combine:
Materials and Nanomaterials
Molecular Synthesis, Design and Engineering
Photochemistry and Plasmonica
Projects usually demand the chemical synthesis of fluorescent constructs, their structural characterization, their spectroscopic analysis and the assessment of their performance.
MATERIALS AND NANOMATERIALS
Our efforts are directed toward the design and the fabrication of hybrid, functional materials based on metal nanostructures, semiconductors, mesoporous materials, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and carbon nanomaterials.
This research line also focuses on the development and understanding of innovative nanosystems with the capability to perform complex functions. In this context, our group focuses on combining multiple discrete components into single multifunctional nanocomposites for use in cascade chemical reactions.
MOLECULAR SYNTHESIS, DESIGN
Our research concentrates on the rational design and the synthesis of functional chemical compounds. Organic molecules are engineered such that their photochemical and photophysical properties can be directly (photochemistry) or indirectly (plasmonics) controlled with light. Supramolecular strategies are often implemented for the preparation of cooperative, multicomponent molecular devices.
Optically active systems are based on monomolecular or bimolecular fluorescent switches, photochromic compounds, and photocatalytic molecules. We seek to develop activatable or switchable fluorophores for applications in biological imaging, lithography and digital communication with nanoscaled resolution.
PHOTOCHEMISTRY & PLASMONICS
We research new light-based strategies for the optimal control of chemical reactions. Photochemical methods are used for the controlled activation of catalytic nanosystems, manipulation of switchable molecules and their investigation (spectroscopy).
Diffraction prevents the focusing of light within nanoscaled volumes and the fabrication of features with molecular precision. Our goal is to overcome the diffraction barrier, by engineering together organic molecules and metal nanoparticles such that their properties can be used cooperatively, combining classic organic chemistry with plasmonic technology for lithography and biological microscopy.
Our Current Focus
PHOTOACTIVATABLE AND PHOTOSWITCHABLE FLUOROPHORES
We seek to develop activatable or switchable fluorophores for applications in biological imaging, sensing and digital communication with nanoscaled resolution.
Organic molecules can be engineered to switch from a nonemissive state to a fluorescent one (activation) or change the colour of their emission (switching), within a defined region of space and during a given interval of time under external control.
PHOTOACTIVE METAL ORGANIC FRAMEWORKS & CARBON NANODOTS
We engineer fluorescent carbon dots and MOFs to create multifunctional nanocomposites for bioimaging and molecular computing applications.
Carbon or metal-organic nanoparticles are functionalized and customized with stimuli-responsive organic molecules on their surface or in their interior.
SURFACE PLASMON CONTROLLED EMISSION / PLASMONIC IMAGING
The spectral properties of fluorophores can be dramatically altered by near-field interactions with the electron clouds present in metal. These interactions modify the emission in ways not seen in classical fluorescence experiments. We investigate metal-enhanced fluorescence (MEF) effects to improve the signal-to-noise ratio and resolution of biological imaging and fundamental optical processes.
DIGITAL PROCESSING AND COMMUNICATIONS WITH MOLECULES
We exploit selective processes and photochemical inputs to develop encrypting protocols and perform simple (AND, NOT and OR) or complex (EOR, INH, NOR, XNOR and XOR) logic operations with molecular switches.
SINGLE-MOLECULE MICROSCOPY & ANALYSIS OF NANOSYSTEMS
We combine steady-state and benchtop investigations with single molecule microscopy, a groundbreaking tool to understand the interactions between single molecules and single particles.
The insights gained at the single-molecule level can be transduced to practical improvements of the performance of chemical reactions at the macroscale.
Fully equipped for organic synthesis with fumehoods, rotary evaporators, analytical balances, a microwave reactor and various instrumentation useful for performing and analyzing synthetic transformations.
Our advanced materials laboratory is equipped with two fumehoods dedicated to nanomaterials synthesis, a semi-micro analytical balance, oven and muffle furnace, an ultrapure water system, a spin coater and freeze dryer/lyophilizer.
Equipped with advanced technology for measuring absorption and emission spectra of samples in solution or at the solid state, our spectroscopy lab houses:
An absorption spectrometer (Varian Cary 60 Uv-Vis) with Peltier Temperature Control
An emission spectrometer (Varian Cary Eclipse) with Peltier Temperature Control
A customizable, state-of-the-art LEDs illumination
A photoreactor (Luzchem LCZ-4)
A multicolour, portable LED illuminator (Luzchem LEDi)
TMU ANALYTICAL FACILITY
Members of the Laboratory for Nanomaterials and Molecular Plasmonics have access to the shared facilities of the Department of Chemistry and Biology of Ryerson University and the Ryerson Analytical Facility, which include:
Powder X-Ray Diffractometry (PXRD)
High Performance Liquid Chomatography (HPLC)
Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC)
UV-Vis-NIR Absorption Spectrometry (Varian Cary 5000)
Infrared Spectrometry (FTIR)
Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)
Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)
Atomic Absorption Spectrometry
Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Spectroscopy
Atomic Force Microscopy
Dynamic Light Scattering
A 400-MHz Bruker multi-probe NMR instrument