The materials chemistry program at UCR focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of new functional materials, understanding the fundamental chemical principles governing their fabrication, investigating their properties, and exploring their unique applications. Students in the materials chemistry program will be provided with opportunities to develop interdisciplinary research expertise via collaborations in engineering, physics and biological sciences. At UCR, the research in materials chemistry covers a wide range of materials including molecular materials (Bardeen, Bocian), polymers (Cheng), solid state materials (Feng, Haddon, Ozkan, Yin), colloidal materials (Tang, Yin), and composite/hybrid materials (Haddon, Tang, Yin). These materials are processed at different length scales spanning from the molecular level to nanometer and micrometer sizes, often in the form of nano- or microcrystals, thin films, and porous structures. Significant efforts have been focused on the exploration of niche applications for these materials in a variety of areas, including sensors and actuators (Bardeen, Bartels, Cheng), electronic and photonic devices (Bartels, Bocian, Haddon, Tang, Yin), as well as catalysis and energy applications (Bardeen, Feng, Ozkan, Yin, Zaera). A number of groups are also actively developing cutting edge characterization tools to study various aspects of the formation processes and properties of the new materials (Bartels, Zaera, Y. Zhang). With unique computational expertise, the Beran group aims to predict the chemical behaviors of gases and solid state materials through calculations. Many faculty members working in materials chemistry have joint positions in the Materials Science and Engineering Program at the Bourns College of Engineering. The Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, furnished with a state-of-the-art nanofabrication research facility, is headquartered in the Chemistry Department. Please follow the links to find out more information about Materials Chemistry research at UCR.
Faculty Research Descriptions:
The Bardeen group seeks to develop new organic materials that can transform light into electrical or mechanical energy. By controlling the size and shape of crystals composed of conjugated organic molecules, we can affect their mechanical and electronic properties. These crystals can be used as components in applications like organic solar cells and nanoscale photomechanical actuators.
The Bartels group synthesizes metal dichalcogenide materials such as MoS2, MoSe2, WS2 etc. We characterize their electronic, optic, (photo-)catalytic and chemical behavior using a broad range of techniques. Funding of this effort is provided by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, NSF and other sources.
Quantum chemistry in liquids and solids: The Beran group uses computational quantum chemistry to predict chemical behavior in the gas and condensed phases. Recent work has focused on predicting molecular crystal structures and properties, mechanisms in heterogenous catalysis, and the interpretation of various spectroscopic experiments. We develop the new theoretical algorithms that make high-quality and robust predictions feasible in these complex systems.
Molecular Materials for Photonics and Electronics. The Bocian group is engaged in a variety of studies that broadly encompass physical, biological, and materials chemistry. The types of systems/areas being investigated include heme and photosynthetic proteins, synthetic light-harvesting arrays, molecular photonic devices, electrically addressable molecular-based memories, and molecules for light-mediated diagnostics, imaging, and therapy.
The materials chemistry research in the Cheng group focuses on supramolecular assemblies of conjugated lipid molecules and electrospun nanofibers. Emphasis is placed on exploration of novel optical properties of the materials for biosensing application. We are particularly interested in polydiacetylenes (PDA) and similar conjugated systems, and polymer/metal oxide nanofibers capable of FRET detection and enhanced electron transfer.
Solid State Materials, Inorganic Chemistry and Nanostructured Materials.Our research interest centers on the development of synthetic methodologies to prepare novel nanostructured materials and porous materials with applications in photocatalysis, catalysis, chemical separation, gas adsorption, and battery applications.
The Fokwa research group is interested in novel inorganic solids derived from the combination of main group elements and metals (mainly transition metals). Much emphasis lies on the elucidation of the crystal and electronic structures as well as structure-bonding-property correlations of such new compounds, thus enabling their potential applications as materials for energy related technologies (magnetic, magnetocaloric, superconducting and spintronic materials) as well as refractory materials (hard and superhard materials) and catalysts.
Synthetic Organic, Inorganic and Supramolecular chemistry. Our projects include: the synthesis of biomimetic supramolecular constructs capable of selective molecular recognition; synthesis of new water-soluble catalysts and host molecules; dynamic NMR studies of host:guest interactions; biosensors based on synthetic receptor molecules.
Computational materials chemistry and nanoscience. Growth mechanism of nanostructures. Organic-inorganic interfaces in dictating the morphology of nanoshapes. High-accuracy potentials for structure prediction of nanocatalysts. Structure-property relationship of porous carbons in energy storage and gas separations. Electrolyte/electrode interfaces in batteries and supercapacitors.
Solid-state and solution-state NMR as a probe of structure and dynamics.
Energy Storage - supercapacitors and batteries and renewable energy devices-solar. New nano- and micro- scale approaches for developing new materials, new fabrication techniques and system level testing and integration depict Ozkan’s multi-scale research interests. Light weight and high capacity batteries and supercapacitor and a new fluorescence quenching microscopy metrology technique for industrial scale graphene sheet surface characterization are some of their most recent publications that became cover articles in high-venue journals.
Research in the Su Laboratory utilizes main group and organic chemical synthesis to create next-generation materials for electronics and bioimaging. The first key area of research seeks to develop synthetic routes to group 14 (Si, Ge, Sn) clusters, polymers, and nanoribbons for potential applications as electronic materials. The second focus area utilizes organic and polymer synthesis to devise new materials and probes for super-resolution imaging of cells and tissues in disease-relevant contexts. Given the interdisciplinary nature of our work, researchers in the Su Lab receive broad-based training that starts from molecular synthesis and extends to materials science, molecular electronics, microscopy, chemical biology, or cell & animal work depending on the project.
Hybrid Nanomaterials. Research in Tang group will utilize supramolecular & colloidal chemistry, as well as single particle spectroscopy, to investigate the surfaces and self-assembly of nanocrystals. We seek to further the understanding of the organic-inorganic interface that defines the properties of nanocrystals, and to address the challenges in 3D nanoparticle self-assembly, to make, for example, metamaterials active at visible wavelengths. Operating at the interface of chemistry, applied physics and materials science, we will design, synthesize and characterize hybrid materials with novel optoelectronic, photonic and catalytic applications.
The Xue group studies peptides that are capable of supramolecular recognition. When coupled with spectroscopy and microscopy, these peptides provide the basis to a series of bioanalytical methods. The long term goal is to use these methods to better understand the cell signaling pathways and develop novel therapeutics.
Functional Nanostructured Materials. The Yin group is interested in the development of functional inorganic nanostructured materials for photonic, electronic, catalytic, bioanalytical, environmental and energy applications. Our unique tools for fabricating novel nanostructured materials include colloidal chemical synthesis, surface functionalization, and self-assembly techniques. The specific examples of applications of our materials include sensors and detectors, supercapacitors and batteries, smart materials, photocatalysts, color display devices, and anti-counterfeiting features.
Surface Science, Heterogeneous Catalysis, and Thin Film Deposition. Molecular-level study of reaction mechanisms on surfaces. Measurements of kinetics and energetics of surface reactions by temperature-programmed desorption (TPD), molecular beams, atmospheric pressure cells, and catalytic reactors. Surface intermediate characterization using a combination of surface-sensitive techniques, including infrared absorption spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), low-energy ion scattering (LEISS), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES). Development of novel nanocatalysts with unique architectures using colloidal, self-assembly, and other synthetic approaches to achieve high selectivity and stability. Focus on hydrocarbon conversion, photocatalysis and water splitting, chiral catalysis, partial oxidation, and NOx reduction and other environmental problems. Study of the surface chemistry of chemical vapor (CVD) and atomic layer (ALD) deposition processes, with focus on the mechanisms of the surface reactions of possible CVD and ALD precursors for the growth of films of interest in the microelectronics industry, including copper interconnects, metal nitride and Mn based diffusion barriers, and high-k materials such as strontium oxides.
Mass spectrometry and chemical kinetics of chemical vapor deposition processes; optical spectroscopy and diagnostics of gas-phase species in chemical vapor deposition.
Graduates of the UCR Materials Chemistry program find excellent job opportunities in both industry and academia. The following list contains companies/institutes that have employed recent graduates and postdoctoral researchers from our program. Only a small subset is shown.