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Leo Zasada

Leo Zasada

My research focuses on new, advanced materials for efficient energy storage and electrocatalysis. Specifically, I will synthesize liquid crystalline metal–organic macrocycles that combine the porosity, chemical tunability, and high conductivity of 2D metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) with the solution-processability, self-healing, and stimuli-responsiveness of liquid crystals. 2D MOFs are generally isolated as microcrystalline powders, leading to poor electron transport across grain boundaries. In contrast, liquid crystals are solution processable and can be macroscopically aligned, eliminating this issue.

I have synthesized tetrahydroxytriphenylene ligands that should bind to square planar M(II) cations to form hexagonal macrocycles. The desired macrocycle features a π–d conjugated core that should facilitate rapid charge transport through π–π stacking. During this award period, I will refine the macrocycle synthesis and synthesize new ligands featuring long, peripheral alkyl chains. These chains should increase solubility and induce liquid crystal phases, which will be characterized via polarized light microscopy.

Advisor: Dianne Xiao – Chemistry