Dr. Thomas S. Janik
My research students and I are interested in the synthesis and characterization of organometallic compounds. Many of the reagents we use and compounds we investigate are air sensitive and so require special equipment, training and techniques. Students learn to utilize a Schlenk line (a line which supplies a vacuum and an inert gas and so allows reactions to be run with the exclusion of air and moisture) and they learn to use and maintain a dry box, which allows handling of material in a dry, inert gas atmosphere. Reactions are monitored, and products characterized, by the usual instrumental methods. Infrared spectroscopy is particularly fast and useful to evaluate changes in organometallic compounds, since the IR spectrum of most organometallics is particularly sensitive to even minor changes. In most cases, nuclear magnetic resonance is also used. Most often NMR is used to examine the hydrogen (1H) or carbon (13C) nuclei in a compound, but we have the capability of examining a number of different types of nuclei. Generally, these techniques supply enough information to assign a structure, in more difficult cases, we can obtain a Mass Spectrum, which supplies information about the mass and components of a molecule. In the case of a very difficult or unusual compound, we can utilize x-ray diffraction. An x-ray study, although time consuming, produces definitive and uniquely satisfying structural information about a molecule, i.e. it supplies the spatial arrangement of a molecule's component nuclei, which is typically presented as a "picture" of the molecule. All of the instrumentation mentioned, and much more, is in the department and available for student use. This availability to undergraduate students is unusual and represents a rare educational opportunity.
Some former students and their projects include: Dr. Charles Lake, who worked on the synthesis and x-ray study of the first example of a species containing an unsupported vanadium-vanadium triple bond. Charles enjoyed crystallography so much that he obtained a Ph.D. in crystallography and is currently a faculty member at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Mike Korzenski, who isolated an unusual iron-phosphorous compound with considerable potential as a synthetic reagent. Mike went on for a Ph.D. from Clemson and a post-doc in France and started an industrial career with Phillips in the Netherlands. The work of these and other students resulted in publications (listed below along with some more recent work) and inspired them to pursue graduate studies and become successful chemists.
When not in the lab or classroom, most of my students and I take advantage of the uncrowded resources here for recreation. In the winter months, the hills behind Fredonia offer superb cross-country skiing. In the summer, vast State-owned lands offer great trails for mountain biking, running and hiking. Nearby lakes and streams provide areas for boating, fishing swimming and windsurfing. When cultural activities are the goal, the campus itself supplies many opportunities. Of course, nearby Buffalo and Toronto beckon as well.
More recent publications include: