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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

NJIT Professor Develops a Biologically-Inspired Catalyst, an Active Yet Inert Material

Associate Professor Sergiu M. Gorun and Andrei Loas, who is leading author of “Broadening the Reactivity Spectrum of a Phthalocyanine Catalyst While Suppressing Its Nucleophilic, Electrophilic and Radical Degradation Pathways.”

NJIT Associate Professor Sergiu M. Gorun is leading a research team to develop a biologically-inspired catalyst, an active yet inert material. 

The work is based on organic catalytic framework made sturdy by the replacement of carbon-hydrogen bonds with a combination of aromatic and aliphatic carbon-fluorine bonds. Graduate students involved with this research recently received first place recognition at the annual NJIT Dana Knox Student Research Showcase.

The newest focus of Gorun’s research has been the cobalt complex as a catalyst for which the known degradation pathways appear to have been suppressed. “Broadening the Reactivity Spectrum of a Phthalocyanine Catalyst While Suppressing Its Nucleophilic, Electrophilic and Radical Degradation Pathways” by Gorun and others appeared in the web issue of Dalton Transactions (2011), ASAP Communication, DOI: 10.1039/C1DT10458F.  Similar to a previous publication, this recent one addresses an important industrial process, the "sweetening" of petroleum products by the transformation of smelly and corrosive thiols into disufides. The extreme electronic deficiency of the new catalyst metal center allows it to process molecules that are not reactive in the presence of regular catalysts that perform this chemistry industrially.

Two years ago Gorun and his team reported that the related zinc perfluoroalkylated phthalocyanine, a molecule resembling the porphyrin core of several heme enzymes, exhibit highly-efficient photochemical oxygenation of an organic substrate. This was of potential interest to the fragrance industry ("Rational design of a reactive yet stable organic-based photocatalyst"  Dalton Transactions, 2009, 1098).

Concurrently, the unusual properties of Gorun's new materials are explored in parallel in constructing surface coatings, an area in which Gorun was awarded US patent 7,670,684. Several publications describe the properties of the new coatings.

The Department of Defense and National Science Foundation have supported this work. Gorun will be an invited speaker in a symposium about advances in phthalocyanines and related macrocycles to be held July of 2012 at the 7th International Conference on Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines, held in Jeju Island, South Korea.

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.