Newsletter: Spring 1997

The Organic Materials Research Group at Vanderbilt University is dedicated to the development and characterization of organic materials. Our primary focus is toward the synthesis of novel mesogenic materials.

Piotr Kaszynski and the members of his Organic Materials Research Group continue to work on two major projects concerning liquid crystalline materials. The work is now carried out on the sixth floor of the new chemistry building. Mr. John Farrar, a third year graduate student, has been leading one of the projects, currently supported by NSF, aimed at the development of liquid crystals containing stable free radicals. This unknown class of materials is expected to exhibit unusual magnetic and electrical properties. John's efforts have been reinforced by help from two undergraduate students, Sharat Kusuma and, more recently, Xuan Sun. Mr. Huiyong Yin, a graduate of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry recently joined the team working on liquid crystalline radicals, and has already made rapid progress. Our synthetic efforts have been paralleled by developments in our instrumental facilities. Thanks to Drs. Kinser and Weeks of the Department of Applied and Engineering Sciences, we are in control of a Bruker ESR spectrometer. NSF funds and a generous donation from Ford Motor Co. allowed us to reactivate and upgrade the Bruker instrument which is now capable of high and low temperature measurements and digital data transfer through the network. A Faraday Balance, a magnetometer donated by Dr. Joesten, is also setup in the ESR room which now constitutes the Magnetic Measurement Facility located in Olin Hall. Simultaneously, we are strengthening our computational facility. A Power Indigo2 SGI work station set up to run the Gaussian 94 computational package was purchased with the NSF grant to guide our experimental work with ab initio predictions.

Our second major project, recently supported by an NSF CAREER award, is led by Dr. Andrew G. Douglass a postdoctoral fellow who joined us from Southampton, England. The main objective in this research is the development of a new generation of materials for nematic Liquid Crystals Displays. Dr. Zbynek Janousek, a boron cluster chemist of the Czech Academy of Sciences spent the Fall semester working on large dipole moment liquid crystals containing monocarboranes. Ms. Michelle Mierzwa, a senior undergraduate student entering our graduate program next Fall, has been working on carborane-containing liquid crystalline materials. Another undergraduate, Ryan Nunley has been continuing the work on boron clusters begun by Mr. Erik Brady in the Summer of 1996. Most recently the arrival of Dr. Krzysztof Czuprynski of the Military Academy of Technology in Warsaw complements the expertise of Dr. Douglass and Mr. Yin in the characterization of liquid crystal materials. Dr. Czuprynski's mesophase characterization and phase diagrams of binary mixtures will permit the evaluation of our materials for practical applications. His six month stay is supported by the NRC-COBASE program. Our continued effort in the development of characterization methods for our new materials resulted in a more powerful and capable APT instrument from Displaytech. Mr. James Harvey, a first year graduate student, is working on the final steps in the adaptation of the instrument for the measurement of rotational viscosity of liquid crystals and dipole moments. Funds available from the CAREER award will permit us to complete our Materials Characterization Laboratory capable of evaluation of standard parameters of liquid crystalline materials (thermal, dielectric, optical, and mechanical characterization).

The most recent chapter in the development of organic materials for electrooptical applications has begun with the arrival of Dr. Vladimir Benin, himself a Vanderbilt graduate, from Cornell University. Dr. Benin's work concentrates on the development of hole transport materials for Organic Light Emitting Diodes, a project sponsored by Texas Instruments.

John David Sadler, one of our former undergraduate coworkers, holds a BS-level position in development and processing at a new Hoffman-LaRoche facility in South Carolina. Mr. Jianping Huang, who obtained a MS degree in 1995, has been promoted at Nexstar in Boulder CO.

Dr. Kaszynski was invited to the Institute of Liquid Crystals at KSU and to the Gordon Conference on liquid crystals to present the work on boron-containing liquid crystals. Our results have recently been presented at three international meetings and the Spring ACS national meeting. We will be presenting three posters at the Fall ACS national meeting in Las Vegas. See you there!

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