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 ASAP Communication. 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
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.