Formal headshot of Vincent Catalano.

Vincent J. Catalano, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry; Associate Dean, College of Science


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.


  • 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


  • Hong, D. H.; Ferreira, R. B.; Catalano, V. J.; Garcia-Serres, R.; Shearer, J.; Murray, L. J “Access to Metal Centers and Fluxional Hydride Coordination Integral for CO2 Insertion into [Fe3(μ-H)3]3+ Clusters.” Inorg. Chem. 2021, 60(10), 7228-7239.
  • Eaton, M. C.; Catalano, V. J.; Shearer, J.; Murray, L. J. “Dinitrogen Insertion and Cleavage by a Metal-Metal Bonded Tricobalt(I) Cluster.” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143(15); 5649-5653.
  • Buratto, W., Ferreira, R., Catalano, V. J., Garcia-Serres, R., Murray, L. “Cleavage of Cluster Iron-Sulfide Bonds in Cyclophane-Coordinated FenSm Complexes.” Dalton Transactions 2021, 50(3), 816-821.
  • Eaton, M. C.; Knight, B. J.; Brahmi, R.; Ferreira, R. B.; Catalano, V. J.; Rheingold, A. L.; Ghiviriga, I.; Murray, L. J. “Synthetic Factors Governing Access to Tris(β-diketimine) Cyclophanes versus Tripodal Tri-β-aminoenones.” J. Org. Chem. 2020, 85(21), 13579-13588.
  • Eaton, M.C.; Knight, B.J.; Catalano, V. J.; Murray, L. J. “Evaluating Metal Ion Identity on Catalytic Silylation of Dinitrogen Using a Series of Trimetallic Complexes.” Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 2020, 15-16, 1519-1524. DOI: 10.1002/ejic.201901335
  • Bam, R.; Yang, W. L.: Longhi, G.; Abbate, S.; Lucotti, A.; Tommasini, M.; Franzini, R.; Villani, C.; Catalano, V. J.; Olmstead, M. M.; Chalifoux, W. A. “Four-Fold Alkyne Benzannulation: Synthesis, Properties, and Structure of Pyreno[a]pyrene-Based Helicene Hybrids” Org. Lett, 2019, 21(21), 8652-8656
  • Hong, D. H; Knight, B. J.; Catalano, V. J.; Murray, L. J. “Isolation of chloride- and hydride-bridged tri-iron and -zinc clusters in a tris(β-oxo-δ-diimine) cyclophane ligand” Dalton Trans., 2019, 48, 9570-9575.
  • Yang, W.; Bam, R.; Catalano, V. J.; Chalifoux, W. A. “Highly Regioselective Domino Benzannulation Reaction of Buta-1,3-Diynes to Construct Irregular Nanographenes.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 48, 267–6.
  • Ferreira, R. B; Cook, B. J.; Knight, B.; Catalano, V. J.; García-Serres, R.; Murray, L. J. "Catalytic Silylation of Dinitrogen by a Family of Triiron Complexes." ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 7208–7212.
  • Cook, B. J.; De Francesco, G. N.; Ferreira, R. B.; Lukens, J. T.; Silberstein, K. E.; Keegan, B. C.; Catalano, V. J.; Lankaster, K. M.; Shearer, J.; Murray, L. J. “Chalcogen Impact on Covalency within Molecular [Cu33-E)]3+ Clusters (E = O, S, Se): A Synthetic, Spectroscopic, and Computational Study.” Inorg. Chem. 2018, 57, 11382–11392.
  • Yang, W.; Kazemi, R. R.; Karunathilake, N.; Catalano, V. J.; Alpuche-Aviles, M. A.; Chalifoux, W. A. “Expanding the Scope of Peropyrenes and Teropyrenes Through a Facile InCl3-Catalyzed Multifold Alkyne Benzannulation.” Org. Chem. Front. 2018, 116, 1139–1147.
  • Jarvis, T.; Saint-Louis, C. J.; Fisch, A. R.; Barnes, K. L.; Dean, D.; Flores, L. A.; Hunt, T. F.; Munro, L.; Simmons, T. J.; Catalano, V. J.; Zhu, L.; Schrock, A. K.; Huggins, M. T. “Pyrrole Β-Amides: Synthesis and Characterization of a Dipyrrinone Carboxylic Acid and an N -Confused Fluorescent Dipyrrinone.” Tetrahedron 2018, 74, 1698–1704.