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Vincent J. Catalano


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Contact Information


  • NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (1992-1993), California Institute of Technology (Harry B. Gray)
  • Ph.D. (1991), University of California, Davis (Alan L. Balch)
  • B.S. (1987), University of California, Santa Barbara

Research Interests

Our research interests include the synthesis, structure, bonding and optical properties of transition metal complexes. Currently, we are exploring the application of N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligands as supports for maintaining short metal-metal interactions between closed-shell ions, particularly Au(I) and Ag(I). With these ligands we are able to prepare highly luminescent, one-dimensional coordination polymers and discrete multimetallic complexes that contain very short metal-metal separations.  Perturbing this metal-metal interaction greatly alters the emission properties making these molecules ideally suited for applications such as luminescent sensors. Shown below is one such system where a simple change in ligation at the Cu(I) center induces a significant rearrangement of the Cu(I)-Au(I)-Cu(I) core.  As a result, the emission dramatically changes from blue to green.  Exposing a solid sample of the acetonitrile containing complex (shown left) with a gaseous stream of methanol vapor produces a brilliant green emission which is reversed upon exposure to air.

 acetonitrile containing complex


  • Ermert, D.M.; Ghiviriga, I.; Catalano, V.J.; Shearer, J.; Murray, L.J.  An Air- and Water-​Tolerant Zinc Hydride Cluster That Reacts Selectively With CO2Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7047-7050.
  • Barnes, K.L.; Chen, K.; Catalano, V.J.; Jeffrey, C.S.  New building blocks for iminosugars:  a concise synthesis of polyhydroxylated N-​alkoxypiperidines through an intramolecular azepine ring contraction.  Org. Chem. Front. 2015, 2, 497-501.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Lopez-de-Luzuriaga, J.M.; Monge, M.; Olmos, M.E.; Pascual, D.  Copper(I)​-​assisted red-​shifted phosphorescence in Au(I)​···Cu(I) heteropolynuclear complexes.  Dalton Trans. 2014, 43, 16486-16497.
  • Munro, L.B.; Catalano, V.J.  Triangular [Ag3]​3+ complexes supported by picolyl-​substituted N-​heterocyclic carbene ligands.  Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2014, 2014, 4994-5007.
  • Kissel, P.; Murray, D.J.; Wulftange, W.J.; Catalano, V.J.; King, B.T.  A nanoporous two-​dimensional polymer by single-​crystal-​to-​single-​crystal photopolymerization.  Nat. Chem. 2014, 6, 774-778.
  • Walton, I.; Davis, M.; Munro, L.; Catalano, V.J.; Cragg, P.J.; Huggins, M.T.; Wallace, K.J.  A Fluorescent Dipyrrinone Oxime for the Detection of Pesticides and Other Organophosphates.  Org. Lett. 2012, 14, 2686-2689.
  • Chen, K.; Strasser, C.E.; Schmitt, J.C.; Shearer, J.; Catalano, V.J.  Modulation of luminescence by subtle anion-cation and anion-pi interactions in a trigonal Au(I)-Cu(I) complex.  Inorg. Chem. 2012, 51, 1207-1209.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Strasser, C.E.  Luminescent copper(I) halide adducts of [Au(im(CH2py)2)2]PF6 exhibiting short Au(I)-Cu(I) separations and unusual semi-bridging NHC ligands.  Inorg. Chem. 2011, 50, 11228-11234.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Munro, L.B.; Strasser, C.E.; Samin, A.E.  Modulation of Metal-Metal Separations in a Series of Ag(I) and Intensely Blue Photoluminescent Cu(I) NHC-Bridged Triangular Clusters.  Inorg. Chem. 2011, 50, 8465-8476.
  • Strasser, C.E.; Catalano, V.J.  "On-Off" Au(I)···Cu(I) interactions in a Au(NHC)2 luminescent sensor.  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 10009-10011.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Moore, A.L.; Shearer, J.; Kim, J.  Luminescent Copper(I) Halide Butterfly Dimers Coordinated to [Au(CH3imCH2py)2]BF4 and [Au(CH3imCH2quin)2]BF4Inorg. Chem. 2009, 48, 11362-11375.
  • Ghosh, A.K.; Catalano, V.J.  Synthesis and Characterization of a Series of New Luminescent NHC-Coordinated Au(I)···Ag(I) Tetra- and Polymetallic Complexes Containing Benzoate-Bridged Ag2 Dimers.  Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2009, 1832-1843.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Etogo, A.O.  Preparation of Au(I), Ag(I), and Pd(II) N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes Utilizing a Methylpyridyl-Substituted NHC Ligand.  Formation of a Luminescent Coordination Polymer.  Inorg. Chem. 2007, 46, 5608-5615.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Etogo, A.O.  Luminescent coordination polymers with extended Au(I)-Ag(I) interactions supported by a pyridyl-substituted NHC ligand.  J. Organomet. Chem. Special Carbene Issue 2005, 690, 6041-6050.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Moore, A.L.  Mono-, Di-, and Trinuclear Luminescent Silver(I) and Gold(I) N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes Derived From the Picolyl-Substituted Methylimidazolium Salt:  1-methyl-3-(2-pyridinylmethyl)-1H-Imidazolium tetrafluoroborate. Inorg. Chem. 2005, 44, 6558-6566.
  • Catalano, V.J.; Malwitz, M.A.; Etogo, A.O.  Pyridine Substituted N-Heterocyclic Carbene Ligands as Supports for Au(I)-Ag(I) Interactions:  Formation of a Chiral Coordination Polymer.  Inorg. Chem. 2004, 43, 5714-5724.

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