Formal headshot of Vincent Catalano.

Vincent J. Catalano

Department Chair and Professor


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


  • 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 CO2.  Angew. 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]BF4.  Inorg. 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.