Philosophy

After almost two centuries of revolutionary developments in chemistry, one may wonder if the limits of knowledge in this essential field of science will be eventually reached. Well, not so soon! Chemistry in this millennium is redefining itself into a strongly multidisciplinary science at the center of major advances in materials science, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. The construction of complex molecules and supramolecular assemblies that are conferred real functions should eventually bring fundamental advances in widely different areas of our society. Observations from Nature imply that the next logical step of complexity in chemistry will follow what Nature itself has perfected over billions of years despite a rather limited set of building blocks – indeed, it is likely that very large molecules and their complex assemblies will perform increasingly complex functions to the benefit of society.

My group aims to contribute to this exciting future by solving important problems in the design and understanding of the materials properties of organic molecules. The judicious use of the powerful tools of modern organic synthesis is at the core of this research, as compounds have to be prepared first, then studied, and finally modified to alter or enhance the desired properties. Achieving ideal physical properties in molecules and their solids is also what drives current technological research and our economy, thus it is a major aspect of scientific discovery. However, it is still very difficult to predict or design molecular properties from first principles (theoretical calculations), especially when applied to a bulk organic material. Hence, one has to rely for the moment on analogies and semi-quantitative approximations to plan and direct a research project in materials chemistry.

Our personal interests have converged on three areas of chemistry associated with important physical properties: Fullerenes and carbon nanotubes, organic superconductors, and organic ferromagnets. Fullerenes and carbon nanotubes are critically important because they have become the de facto carbon-rich nanomaterial with an astonishing array of physical properties of crucial importance (e.g. superconductivity, ferromagnetism, photovoltaic systems, and much more). On the other hand, organic superconducting tetrathiafulvalenes (TTFs) have been studied in the last 20 years for being the first organic compounds to display superconductivity. So far, a maximum superconductivity transition temperature (Tc) of 13 K has been reached, but we believe that their potential as high temperature superconductors remains high because the molecular ordering of these systems in a truly three dimensional network has not been addressed satisfyingly yet (all TTF superconducting phases are 2-dimensional). Organic ferromagnets have been pursued for several years with some key successes. They have real technological potential where cheap, easily processed magnetic devices are needed. The challenge of ordering spins in a purely organic material at room temperature still needs to be met. We are working in this direction as seen at the end of this summary.

The following are our current research projects:

Molecular Surgery

Fullerene chemistry

Organic photovoltaic device

Carbon nanotube synthesis

Organic ferromagnets

Organic superconductors

Research support:

Our work was made possible over the years thanks to generous financial support from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences as part of an Energy Frontier Research Center, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Yves Rubin is especially grateful to the previous and current coworkers of the group for their invaluable intellectual and experimental contributions, as well as their enthusiasm, energy, and individualism which bring life to the group. Special thanks go to Dr. Saeed I. Kahn and Dr. Jane Strouse for their precious help with X-ray and NMR characterization of our compounds.

The following grants have supported out work over the last decade:

National Science FoundationCHE-0527015 Collaborative Research Center (CRC): Using Self-Organization to Control Morphology in Semiconducting Polymers

9/15/05 – 8/14/11

National Science FoundationCHE-0617052 Inside and Outside Chemistry of Fullerenes

7/1/06 -6/30/09

Office of Naval ResearchONR-N00014-04-1-0410 Using Self-Organization to Control Nanometer-Scale Architecture in Semiconducting Polymer-Based Solar Cells

10/1/06 – 9/31/09

Department of EnergyDOE-BES (EFRC DE-SC0001342) Molecularly Assembled Material Architectures for Solar Energy Production and Carbon Capture

8/1/09 – 7/31/14

National Science FoundationCHE-0911758 Synthetic Approaches to Endohedral Complexes and Highly Functional Derivatives of Fullerene C60

8/1/09 – 7/31/11

National Science FoundationCHE-1112569 Using Self-Organization to Control Nanometer-Scale Architecture in Semiconducting Polymer-Based Solar Cells

10/01/11 – 9/31/14

National Science FoundationCHE-1125054 International Collaboration in Chemistry: Synthetic Organic Approaches to Carbon Nanotubes with Well-Defined Structure

10/01/11 – 9/31/14

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