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Department News

Abigail Knight receives prestigious NSF CAREER award to develop a new way to rapidly screen large polymer libraries

Abigail Knight, assistant professor of chemistry, was recently awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award by the National Science Foundation. Her project, “Synthesis of Multiple Architectures of Decodable Biohybrid Polymer Libraries,” focuses on developing a new way to rapidly screen large polymer libraries for desirable characteristics.

Jeffrey Dick earns prestigious NSF CAREER award to develop new ways to control the properties of high entropy alloy nanomaterials

Jeffrey Dick, assistant professor of chemistry, was recently awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award by the National Science Foundation. His research project, “Electro-Shock Synthesis of High Entropy Alloy Nanoparticles from Sub-Femtoliter Reactors,” focuses on developing new ways to control the properties of high entropy alloy nanomaterials.

Tardigrades’ ability to survive extreme environments could impact the future of vaccine distribution

The Pielak Lab is researching the ability of tardigrade proteins to protect protein-based drugs and industrial enzymes from dehydration-induced inactivation. Read more about how their research has the potential to impact vaccine distribution.

Jeffrey Dick awarded prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for early-career achievements

Jeffrey Dick, assistant professor of chemistry, was recently named a 2021 Sloan Research Fellow. Read more about the fellowship and research in the Dick lab.

Research

Exogenous Nitric Oxide Improves Antibiotic Susceptibility in Resistant Bacteria

Our research group has developed nitric oxide-releasing biopolymers as alternatives to conventional antibiotics. Here, we show that nitric oxide acts as a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent while also improving the efficacy of conventional antibiotics when delivered sequentially.

Functionalization of Benzotriazole-Based Conjugated Polymers for Solar Cells: Heteroatom vs Substituents

In this study, we systematically explore the impact of a variety of functional groups, including nitrogen heteroatoms, fluorine substituents, and cyano groups, on benzotriazole (TAZ)-based acceptor moieties that are incorporated into the conjugated polymers. Specifically, a pyridine heterocycle was used to replace the benzene unit of TAZ, leading to the PyTAZ polymer, and a cyano substituent was added to the benzene of the TAZ unit, resulting in the CNTAZ polymer. The PyTAZ polymer suffers from low mobility and poor exciton harvesting, driven by large and excessively pure domains when blended with PCBM.

mu-MIP: Molecularly Imprinted Polymer-Modified Microelectrodes for the Ultrasensitive Quantification of GenX (HFPO-DA) in River Water

Here, we present a molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP)-modified microelectrode (r = 6.25 μm) sensor for the quantification of a pervasive environmental PFAS, GenX (HFPO-DA), in surface water obtained from the Haw River in North Carolina. A 20 nm film of o-phenylenediamine was electropolymerized in the presence of GenX to generate a templated polymer adjacent to the electrode surface with subsequent solvent extraction resulting in GenX-specific recognition sites.

Stabilization of a molecular water oxidation catalyst on a dye−sensitized photoanode by a pyridyl anchor

We demonstrate here that, following surface loading of a [Ru(bpy)3]2+ (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine) chromophore on nanoparticle electrodes, addition of the molecular catalysts, Ru(bda)(L)2 (bda  =  2,2′-bipyridine-6,6′-dicarboxylate) with phosphonate or pyridyl sites for water oxidation, gives surfaces with a 5:1 chromophore to catalyst ratio.

Our Faculty

Faculty in the Department of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina help define solutions to the pressing scientific problems of the day. A significant and key component of our department’s strategic plan is to cultivate the next generation of scientific leadership. Faculty, from our assistant professors to our most senior and distinguished colleagues, are international leaders in their subfields, garnering local, national, and international recognition and accolades commensurate with their excellence in research and teaching.

Our Graduate Students

Our graduate students form the next generation of scientific leaders. As a department, we seek to recruit and mentor a diverse cohort of students dedicated to excellence in the classroom and research laboratory. The creativity, drive, collegiality, and accomplishments of our graduate students in tackling difficult scientific problems are significant reasons why UNC is an international leader in chemical research.