Dr. Farooq A. Khan, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Honors Research
Office: 2117 TLC , Lab: 2103 TLC
A physical chemist by training, I am working in two broad areas, reactivity of carbon cluster ions using a time-of-flight mass spectrometer, and reactivity of carbon nanotubes and fullerenes using optical and mass spectrometric techniques. While the goal of this work is to carry out publishable work on current problems, there is considerable emphasis on providing undergraduate students a meaningful experience in current, cross-disciplinary work with modern instrumentation.
Reactivity of carbon Cluster Anions (with Dr. Andrew J. Leavitt)
A variety of atmospheric reactions occur on the surface of soot, a ubiquitous pollutant. We are exploring the reactivity of carbon cluster cations and anions (pictured below) with oxides of sulfur to experimentally and computationally model atmospheric reactions.
Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes and Fullerenes (with Dr. Anne Gaquere)
Carbon nanotubes are of considerable interest because of their unique physical and chemical properties. While these novel materials are of interest in their own right, they are also potentially useful in a wide array of applications, e.g., nanoelectronic devices, composite materials that may be used in automobiles, and miniaturized chemical sensors. An important element in processing materials is the ability to manipulate them physically or chemically. As such, carbon nanotubes are not soluble in water or common organic solvents. We have carried out a number of studies with the active participation of undergraduate students, wherein surfactants enable us to make suspensions of nanotubes in a variety of solvents. These are easily characterized by UV-Vis spectroscopy.
The chemical modification of carbon nanotubes would afford the possibilities of altering the structural and electronic properties, and also provide new avenues wherein increased solubility also enhances the ability to process these materials and therefore increase their potential use for practical applications. While the ultimate goal of our research is to functionalize carbon nanotubes, we re also working on the structurally similar fullerene C60 for functionalization as well. The first type of functionalization is a cyclopropanation with a dichlorocarbene. We are particularly interested in enhancing the rates of the reaction by applying the powerful and proven techniques of ultrasounds. The characterization of the products is carried out using LC-MS, in collaboration with Dr. Swamy-Mruthinti in Biology.