Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Faculty: Terry Bigioni, Ph.D.

Office: WO 2272
Phone: (419) 530-4095
Fax: (419) 530-4033

Professional Background:
B.Sc. Chemical Physics, The University of Toronto 1993
M.Sc. Physical Chemistry, The University of Toronto 1994
Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology 2000
Postdoctoral Associate 2002-2005 The University of Chicago
Postdoctoral Associate 2005-2006 NASA Center for Nanotechnology 

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Research Synopsis: Colloidal nanoparticles are fascinating materials because of their extraordinary flexibility and their remarkable diversity of properties. They are unique hybrid materials consisting of a solid inorganic core protected by a soft outer shell of organic molecules. Traditionally, the building blocks of a chemist have been limited to the known elements, with each element's properties being fixed. In contrast, we can adjust the properties of nanoparticles by changing almost trivial properties such as core size or type of capping molecules. In this way, nanoparticles can act like artificial atoms and transcend the periodic table. Such flexibility promises highly-optimized designer materials for applications as diverse as catalysts, sensors, magnetic storage media, solar energy capture, lasers, medical probes and therapeutics. 

My laboratory mainly focuses on molecular nanoparticles. As the name suggests, these are a class of nanoparticles with molecular definition, i.e. they have a precise molecular formulae and structures. The formulae are typically determined by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and the structures are determined by single-crystal x-ray diffraction. One could also think of this as a new class of organometallic molecules with a large number of metal atoms in their cores, which would lie between conventional nanoparticles (which are analogous to polymers) and small organometallic molecules. While conventional nanoparticle science is highly developed, the synthesis and design of molecular nanoparticles demands more detailed investigation. Fortunately, their molecular definition enables rigorous study due to the detailed structural information that is now available, which guides experiment and theory.  

Our research on molecular nanoparticles is focused on three things: (i) developing new strategies for synthesizing and processing molecular nanoparticles; (ii) understanding the structure-property relationship for molecular nanoparticles with the goal of molecular design; (iii) developing new strategies of assembling molecular nanoparticles into complex and functional nanocomposite materials. Silver has been our metal of choice since its chemistry and optical properties are richer than those of gold. We also work with gold and other metals, including for plasmonic nanoparticles, as well as Earth abundant semiconductors for solar energy applications. This research spans many diverse fields, including physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry, hard and soft condensed matter physics, and materials, chemical and mechanical engineering.

Last Updated: 6/27/22