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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.

NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls approximately 10,000 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2012 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Division of Continuing Professional Education.