Research

The Frank Group utilizes techniques in organic synthesis, air-sensitive manipulation of organic and inorganic compounds, coordination chemistry, electrochemistry, electronic absorption spectroscopy, EPR spectroscopy, photophysics, magnetometry, computational chemistry, device fabrication and measurement, resistivity measurements, AFM, Raman Spectroscopy of surfaces, OFET/OPV fabrication and measurement, and magneto-­optics of functional materials.

Spin-Based Materials for Quantum Information Science

Functional materials that change spin, optical, and charge state upon application of external stimuli (light, electric field, or magnetic field) are central to the development of non-volatile memory technologies, spintronics devices, and sensors for quantum information science (QIS). Within the context of quantum information science, quantum computing, communications, and sensors all rely on the fundamental unit of a qubit. In general, a qubit possesses at least two well-defined quantum states that can be prepared and addressed independently. Qubits can interact to generate an infinite number of states leading to exciting new possibilities for data processing, storage, and sensing at the quantum level.   The concept of coupling optically-bistable photochromic ligands to electronically-bistable metal complexes is an enticing strategy for controlling the electronic structure and lifetime of optically-gated functional materials. The electronic coupling between metal center and photochrome states, however, is complex, and fundamental studies towards elucidating the primary mechanism of electronic coupling are central to the expansion of this strategy towards other spin-based systems. The immediate goal of this work is the creation of a generalized strategy for molecular qubits that can be controlled with light under ambient conditions to enable embedded resistive memory devices and sensors with significantly decreased energy demand.

Organic Polymers for Charge Storage

Organic polymers are central to the development of new functional materials for renewable energy, biosensors, and medicinal applications. The electronic structure of organic polymers is highly sensitive to degrees of conjugation, structure of the monomer unit, backbone morphology, and noncovalent interactions between polymer chains. Organic polymers that undergo reversible changes in redox state are valuable for organic electronics, organic solar cells (photovoltaics), and organic charge storage materials (batteries). We have developed stable radicals that function as n-type (good electron donors), and p-type(good electron acceptors) for incorporation into conjugated polymer backbones. These materials show exceptional properties as battery materials, photovoltaic materials, and organic spintronic materials, in which charge (redox state) and spin are highly correlated.  

Bioimaging and Magnetism in Biology

Magnetism plays an important role in biology, either through the development of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) contrast agents for imaging of biological tissues, or through the role of influencing the sensory mechanisms involved in the migration of thousands of organisms by using subtle changes in magnetic field: magnetoreception. We study the fundamental mechanisms involved in these processes through the lens of magnetism. Projects in this area involve the development of new contrast agents, new small molecules for sensing small molecule biological actors ( i.e. glutathione in the cell); and model studies to understand the fundamental mechanisms in nanoparticle and radical-mediated magnetoreception.

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