Abstract: My group is a physical inorganic chemistry group devoted to understanding how to control spin (unpaired electrons and magnetic nuclei) with synthetic, molecular inorganic chemistry. Broadly, our efforts are largely fundamental, exploring how different functional groups, counterions, etc, all manipulate magnetic properties, much like a synthetic chemist would tune a molecule to target a desired reactivity. In this talk, I will provide a broad overview of these efforts, then focus on a larger goal of ours, which is a experimental realization of concept we call “quantum mimicry.” For this goal, we ask the fundamental question: “What are the molecular design criteria to realize an electron that will act (magnetically) like a nucleus, or a nucleus that will magnetically act like an electron?” We will present the results of our experiments to answer that question. The targets for our exploration of this new type of mimicry are transformative molecular imaging probes to convey physiological signatures that conventional (though incredibly powerful) 1H magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is blind to. The importance of our results in this context will also be described.
Bio: Joe was born in Staunton, Virginia and decided to pursue physical sciences following an enthusiastic viewing of the film Jurassic Park. Joe obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Virginia Tech in 2007, kicking off a career focused on spin. Joe obtained his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, under the direction of Prof. Jeffrey R. Long, studying how coordination environments of transition metals can be used to generate powerful magnetic moments, and performed postdoctoral studies with Prof. Danna E. Freedman, then at Northwestern University, creating design principles for metal complexes to serve as quantum bits – the units of information in a quantum computer. At Colorado State University, Joe and his coworkers deploy synthetic chemistry to command the quantum properties of magnetic molecules. In the long term, this knowledge will be vital for new applications in disparate fields spanning from reaction discovery to biomedical imaging.