The research of Professor Jayawickramarajah at Tulane University focusing on the self-assembly of well-defined multi-porphyrin arrays in competitive aqueous media is supported by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry (MSN) program and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). This project aims to use hydrophobically driven host-guest interactions in a coordinated and multivalent manner to (a) develop directional nanowires composed of multi-porphyrin arrays with precise control over inter-porphyrin characteristics (such as inter-porphyrin spacing and porphyrin-porphyrin association constants), and (b) to construct porphyrin arrays with control over array dimensions and composition, via a combination of solution- and surface-based assembly methods. Subsequent to preparation, the photophysical and electronic properties (in particular, photo-induced energy migration) of the arrays will be explored. This research endeavor is inter-disciplinary involving collaborations with the photochemistry group of Prof. Schmehl and the surface physics group of Prof. Diebold.
In addition to advancing fundamental knowledge in molecular recognition and self-assembly in water, this work is expected to benefit society by laying a foundation for functional porphyrinic materials, produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, with potential applications as components in artificial light harvesting materials, as sensors, catalysts, and anti-microbial platforms. Additional broader impacts include advancing the scientific education of researchers from the undergraduate through post-doctoral levels via their integral involvement in cross-disciplinary research activities ranging from synthesis and self-assembly to microscopic and spectroscopic characterizations. Further, this award will enhance the participation of under-represented groups in chemistry education and research via (a) their direct involvement in research projects, and (b) through the continuation of an outreach course developed by Prof. Jayawickramarajah that involves freshman and sophomore undergraduate students from Tulane conducting chemistry-centered service learning activities at an inner-city New Orleans public school.