Dr. Paul Sampson & Dr. Alexander Seed

"Organic Synthesis: Synthesis of HNO Donors, Liquid Crystal Synthesis, Reaction Development"

Projects in the Sampson/Seed group emphasize the use of modern organic synthesis to prepare targets with useful biological or materials properties.  You will learn how to perform a variety of modern reactions (e.g., working with air-sensitive reagents, low temperature chemistry, etc.) and will use high-field NMR and other techniques for product characterization.

Synthesis of Photoactivatable HNO Donor Molecules

We are synthesizing new photoactivatable organic molecules designed to allow for the rapid (sub-second) generation of nitroxyl (HNO).  Nitroxyl is a biologically relevant but short-lived small molecule which shows clinical promise for treating heart failure.  Its study requires the use of HNO donor molecules.  Most known HNO donors decompose to release nitroxyl slowly (~minutes to hours), often under non-physiological conditions.  We are synthesizing a variety of new types of organic HNO donors (e.g. 1) which are designed to rapidly release HNO "on demand" on photolysis.  In this project, you will pursue the multistep synthesis of a new HNO donor and will conduct fundamental photochemical studies on your target compound to establish the potential of this compound as an HNO donor.

Synthesis of Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals Based on Novel S-Heterocyclic Cores

The development of ferroelectric liquid crystals (LCs) for display device applications requires new organic materials which suffer minimal layer contraction on transition into the Smectic C* LC phase (de Vries materials).  Little is understood about the structural features which lead to this behavior.  We are pursuing the synthesis of liquid crystals (e.g. 2 and 3) containing various disubstituted 5-membered S-heterocycles within their core, some of which have potential as de Vries materials.  In this project, you will be involved in the development of methods suitable for the synthesis of suitably functionalized S-heterocyclic building blocks and then use such compounds in the synthesis of new liquid crystal targets that may exhibit de Vries behavior.