main group chemistry:

from laboratory curiosities to applications

Research focus

Our research is concerned with the chemistry of electrophilic and/or Lewis acidic molecules with a special focus on the discovery of novel structures and bonding modes. We are currently studying the design of boron-, antimony- and tellurium-containing Lewis acids as water compatible receptors for small anions. These efforts, which constitute the main thrust of our current research, have led to the discovery of anion sensors for small anions, including fluoride, cyanide and azide.  Some of these sensors can be used in water where they provide a turn-on colorimetric or fluorescence response in the presence of the anion. In addition to these analytical applications, we are also applying our anion-capture strategies to the field 18F-positron emission tomography, an imaging technique used for cancer diagnosis.
      A second component of our work deals with the chemistry of heterobimetallic metal complexes containing a Lewis acidic main group element such as tellurium or antimony and a late transition metal.  From a fundamental perspective, we are interested in the nature of the donor-acceptor bond formed between the metal which acts as a donor and the main group element which acts as an acceptor. From a more applied perspective, we are investigating the redox properties of these complexes, some of which support the photoreductive elimination of halogens.  Such reactions are of interest for the discovery of new solar energy storage approaches.  They also provide a means to control the Lewis acidity of the main group center and trigger the release of coordinated anions.
      In addition to synthesis which lies at the heart of our research projects, our investigations also involves the extensive use of modern characterization techniques (UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, electrochemistry) and computational methods (DFT calculations, AIM and NBO analysis).




Dr.  François P. Gabbai
Texas A&M University
Department of Chemistry
3255 TAMU
College Station
Phone: 979-862-2070
Fax: 979-845-4719