Many aspects of our research address carbon-rich materials for the emerging field of organic electronics, and a primary aim of this program is the development of new synthetic methods for the realization of these materials. Our synthetic methods allow us to prepare a range of compounds designed to serve as the active components in optical or semiconductor devices. With slight modifications, these methods also allow a controlled, step-wise synthesis of conjugated “molecular wires” and macrocycles with defined structure. Finally, our efforts are also directed to the synthesis of molecular carbon allotropes and carbon-rich, nanometer-sized structures.
It is often true that the performance of a material is intimately linked to its order in the solid state. To this end, we also explore self-assembly processes, where supramolecular structures can be constructed from small building blocks. All of these new materials promise to provide new avenues of fundamental discovery at the interface of organic synthesis and materials science.
An interesting twist to our program in carbon-rich materials has directed investigations to naturally occurring, conjugated structures. One objective of our work in this area involves the use of small molecules to understand the supramolecular behavior of asphaltenes, the heaviest parts of the Alberta oil sands (and also of crude oil). An alternate direction targets the synthesis of polyyne natural products, which are found naturally in sources as common as garden vegetables (e.g., carrots) and as obscure as bacterial cultures; these polyyne natural products feature a wide range of useful biological properties.