Joseph J. BelBruno
Professor of Chemistry
Our research group focuses on problems of relevance to materials chemistry. We approach these problems from a physical chemistry and a practical (or engineering) point of view. Our research involves both experimental and computational aspects of materials chemistry.
Our experimental work is heavily involved in molecularly imprinted polymer films. Molecular imprinting is a chemical technique for the production of molecule-specific cavities that mimic the behavior of natural receptor binding sites such as antibodies, without the temperature sensitivity of the natural systems. In principle, artificial polymers maybe built for any target molecule. Our interests lie in the application of MIPs as sensor components and as solid phase extraction materials for consumer products. In our work, we have employed spin cast films to the technique of using solvent-soluble polymers as the host matrix, for the first time creating a technique allowing for fine control over film thickness. We study the fundamental physical properties of the films by means of force microscopy and nanoindentation, but also look to fulfill the need for practical devices. We have developed a number of sensors based on this concept and some of these patent-protected sensors are currently under development as prototypes for deployment in medical and environmental applications.
Imprinted polymers may also be produced as micrometer-sized powders. These powders are then adaptable as molecule-selective solid phase extraction column packings. With these materials, we are able to extract a single component form a complex mixture or related molecules. We are collaborating with industrial partners to further develop this line of research.
Finally, the development of an imprinted polymer requires careful choice of polymer host and solvent. Many MIPs are constructed from previous experience and a consideration of the physical properties of the host and target molecule. We are using quantum mechanical structure calculations and molecular dynamics to computationally predict the best polymer host for a given target molecule. We expect that this research will allow us to eventually put forth general principles to speed the development fo new materials.
Additional projects, explored as an extension of some of the work noted above, involve experimental and modeling efforts to understand the process of sensitized laser chemistry, the experimental study of cluster formation (in metal nitrides, silicon and germanium) and experimental efforts to produce organometallic radicals in sufficiently large quantities so as to examine the spectroscopy of these interesting molecules.
In our other research focus, we are interested, computationally and experimentally, in the interaction of metal atom and semiconductor clusters with surfaces and nanoparticles. In computational studies we attempt to answer questions about the relationship of cluster geometry to the nature of the final surface film. Both structure and dynamics are of interest. The cluster research has been recently directed towards the realm of nanoparticle production. We have developed a laser-ablation source cluster apparatus to the deposition of ZnS nanoparticles and nanotubes onto substrates. We are interested in applying this technique for producing size-selected nanoparticles to other semiconductors, as well as magnetic materials.
Clusters composed of other atoms are also of interest. For example, we are interested in the structure and formation mechanisms of endohedral fullerenes. In addition, small carbon clusters, including those terminated by heteroatoms, have been of theoretical and experimental interest in our group. New methods of deposition involving clusters and interest in self-assembly and surface-cluster interactions require detailed knowledge of the geometry and electronic structure of a range of carbon containing molecules. Computational studies provide critical information for the evolution of the field. We have experimentally produced and examined some of these clusters.
E.A. Karhu, C.R. Ildstad, S. Poggio, V. Furtula, N. Tolstik, I.T. Sorokina, J.J. BelBruno, and U.J. Gibson, “Vapor deposited Cr-doped ZnS thin films: towards optically pumped mid-infrared waveguide lasers” Optics Materials Express, 6, 2947-2955 (2016).
A. Burnin, S. Poggio, J. King and J.J. BelBruno, “Direct growth by arc discharge and computational study of zinc sulfide nanotubes” Journal of Materials Science, 51, 9716-9722 (2016).
“Properties of transition metal substituted zinc sulfide hexamers and dodecamers”, Stefano Poggio, Brendan Wang, Ursula J. Gibson and Joseph J. BelBruno, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., (2015) 17, 14208-14214“Thermochemical study of amino acid imprinted polymer films” Ziyi Chai and Joseph J. BelBruno, Journal of Molecular Recognition (2015) 28 651-655.
"Evidence of chromium-cobalt binary cluster formation by pulsed laser evaporation", Andrei Burnin, Joseph J. BelBruno and Ursula Gibson, International Journal of Mass Spectrometry (2015) 380 7-11.“Band-edge modification and mid-infrared absorption of co-deposited FexZn1-xS thin films”, Nelly-Ann Molland, Zahra Ghadyani, Eric A. Karhu, Stefano Poggio, Mohammadreza Nematollahi, Morten Kildemo, Turid W. Reenaas, Joseph J. BelBruno, and Ursula J. Gibson, Optical Materials Express (2015) 7 1613-1620.
S. Antwi-Boampong, J.S. Peng, J. Carlan and J.J. BelBruno, “A molecularly imprinted fluoral-p/polyaniline double layer sensor system for selective sensing of formaldehyde”, Sensors Journal, IEEE 14, 1490-1498 (2014).
Sadik Antwi-Boampong, Kristina Mani, Jean Carlan and Joseph J. BelBruno, "A selective molecularly imprinted polymer-carbon nanotube sensor for cotinine sensing."Journal of Molecular Recognition 27, 57-63 (2014).
Yuan Liu, Sadik Antwi-Boampong, Joseph J. BelBruno, Mardi A. Crane, and Susanne E. Tanski. "Detection of secondhand cigarette smoke via nicotine using conductive polymer films."Nicotine & Tobacco Research (2013). doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt007
Jinpeng Lv, Chundong Li, and J. J. BelBruno. "Defect evolution on the optical properties of H+-implanted ZnO whiskers."CrystEngComm 15, 5620-5625 (2013).
Jinpeng Lv, Chundong Li, and J. J. BelBruno. "Characteristics of point defects on the optical properties of ZnO: revealed by Al–H co-doping and post-annealing."RSC Adv. 3, 8652-8656 (2013).
Sadik Antwi‐Boampong, Yuan Liu, Asta Richter, and Joseph J. BelBruno. "Effect of the host polymer on the nanomechanical and morphological properties of templated polymer films."Journal of Applied Polymer Science 130, 877-883 (2013).
April D. Lewoczko, Joseph J. BelBruno, and Stefan T. Bromley. "Effect of spin ordering on structure and structural transitions in the (MnS)6 magic cluster."Chemical Physics Letters 556, 207-210 (2013).
Sadik Antwi-Boampong and Joseph J. BelBruno. "Detection of formaldehyde vapor using conductive polymer films."Sensors and Actuators B 182, 300-306 (2013).
April D. Lewoczko and Joseph J. BelBruno. "Impact of surface steps and oxygen pre-coverage on the adsorption of methylamine on gold."Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15, 4707-4714 (2013).
Gian Giacomo Asara, April D. Lewoczko, Andrei Burnin, Joseph J. BelBruno, and Stefan T. Bromley. "Interplay between Magnetism and Magicness in Nanoclusters."The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 116, 20625-20632 (2012).
Asta Richter and Joseph J. BelBruno. "Characterization of functional states in nicotine and cotinine imprinted poly (vinylphenol) films by nanoindentation."Journal of Applied Polymer Science 124, 2798-2806 (2012).
S.W.R. Dunbar and J.J. BelBruno, "Molecularly imprinted polymer-carbon nanotube sensor targeted to cotinine",Chemical Sensors, 2, 14 (2012).
A. Daigle and J.J. BelBruno, "Density Functional Theory Study of the Adsorption of Nitrogen and Sulfur Atoms on Gold (111), (100), and (211) Surfaces",J. Physical Chemistry C 115, 22987-22997 (2011).
A. Daigle and J.J. BelBruno, "Density functional theory study of the adsorption of oxygen atoms on gold (111), (100) and (211) surfaces",Surface Science 605, 1313 (2011).
J.J. BelBruno, G. Zhang and U.J. Gibson, "Capacitive sensing of amino acids in molecularly imprinted nylon films",Sensors and Actuators B 155, 915 (2011).