Dr. Wayne E. Jones, Jr.
Research Professor, Inorganic Chemistry
- B.S., St. Michaels College, 1987
- Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1991
My research group's interests involve the study of photo-induced electron and energy transfer processes in inorganic and polymer systems. By combining novel synthetic strategies with modern electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques, we gain a better understanding of fundamental processes which occur in all of chemistry including electron transfer, energy transfer, excited state reactivity, and materials design at a molecular level. The focus of our efforts is the design and study of molecular wires and devices. These nanomaterials provide a foundation for fundamental investigations as well as opportunities for new applied technologies. The projects briefly outlined below fall into three areas under the theme of molecular wires and devices. They are or have been supported by grants from DOD, ACS-PRF, NIH, NSF, SRC, NIST, NNSA, ONR, New York State Center for Advanced Technology (IEEC), NASA, and industrial partners.
The first targeted area of interest involves application of electronic and photonic polymers to specific devices such as sensors. We have prepared a series of fluorescent polymer chemosensor materials which take advantage of electronic communication along the conjugated polymer molecular wire to provide enhanced detection of nanomolar quantities of transition metals in solution. Initially supported by the National Institutes of Health, we are preparing more reversible and water sensitive versions of this exciting new class of materials. Of particular interest is the non-linear quenching response in these polymers, which make them significantly more sensitive than monomeric sensors. We have developed a unique mathematical model that incorporates both static quenching and dynamic energy transfer. Fitting of the fluorescence quenching data allows distinction between Dexter and Forster energy transfer mechanisms. The synthetic strategy allows for variations in the receptor, receptor loading, and polymer backbone conjugation. Recent work has involved design of more selective receptors based on hemi-labile ligands. This also involves detailed photophysical investigations of a series of transition metal complexes based on this flexible Lewis basic ligand. We have also developed a new class of conjugated polymers that "turn-on" their fluorescence in the presence of specific analytes. This work was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), one of the most prestigious journals in chemistry.
The second area of emphasis involves the design of conducting molecular wires which continues to be a fascinating target of chemistry, physics, and materials science. We have been exploring the use of self assembled monolayers to modify the behavior of in situ deposited conducting polymer films. We have demonstrated for the first time that closely packed transition metal complexes enhance the intermolecular interactions of conducting polymers during the in situ deposition process. The result is electrically conductivities that are 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than typical in situ or spin coating preparations. We can apply the same technology to vapor deposited thin films and inorganic/organic hybrid architectures for photovoltaics and solar energy conversion.
The final area of emphasis focuses on applying a non-mechanical electrostatic polymer processing procedure to prepare nanofibrous materials with diameters of < 100 nm. Nanofibers have been prepared ranging from conducting polymers, polymer blends, and layered composite materials of metals, metal oxides, and conducting polymers. We have demonstrated the application of these materials as thermal interface materials for electronics, nanostructured sensors, and most recently photocatalysts for the degradation of chemical warfare agents and other environmental toxins.