When it comes to filtering pollutants out of the air, there are many options to choose from, but do any exist on a molecular level? Sub-nanometer sized pollutant molecules, such as CO2 whcih has a kinetic diameter of 0.33 nm, can cause many problems in our environment and their separation is a challenging task.

Nanoporous materials, particularly those possessing micropores (diameter in the range of 2 nm-0.2 nm), such as the ones Dr. Rabbani is exploring in his research here at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, may hold the answer to filtering them out.

Description of Research

Dr. Rabbani is working on researching and manufacturing materials with extremely high surface areas for a wide range of potential applications. For instance, if the micropores of a high surface area material were engineered with specific functional groups that have an affinity for CO2, such a material could be used to create a filter to trap and separate CO2 molecules from gas mixtures such as landfill gas (a mixture of CO2 and CH4) or flue gas (a mixture of CO2 and N2).

Aside from separation of gas mixtures, the material are also being studied for the use in the separation of toxic metals from water. These materials also have a variety of other applications. For example, porous materials can be used in the medical industry as binders in tablets, which means that drug molecules are loaded into and held by the pores of the material. A tablet with a porous structure will cause a slow release of drug molecules compared to regular tablets.

Dr. Rabbani is also working on preparing robust and reusable heterogeneous catalysts by exploiting the functionalized surface of porous architecture. The focus of the catalysis project is the conversion of CO2 to value-added chemicals.

Academic Areas of Focus

Chemistry
The central focus of this research is the synthesis of porous materials, which involves both organic and inorganic synthesis techniques. Students gain experience using a variety of high-standard instruments and using synthetic skills to include the following:

  • Aerobic and anaerobic synthesis
  • Glovebox
  • Schlenk line
  • Column and thin layer chromatography
  • Surface area analyzer
  • NMR
  • IR
  • UV-vis spectrophotometer
  • Atomic absorption spectrometer
  • Scanning electron microscope
  • Many others

Nanotechnology and Engineering Physics
Nanoporous polymers are particularly interesting in engineering because of their potential application in carbon capture and sequestration. 

Biology
Porous materials in drug storage and the release of application is of great interest in biology, especially for students pursuing medical, dental, or veterinary school.

Chem 2000 and Chem 4000 level credits
Students not only receive research experience, but they will also obtain research credit through academic semester research. Students can earn basic research techniques credit through Chem 2000 or gain independent research skills through multiple-semester research experiences through Chem 4000.

Application and Career Opportunities

Diverse research experiences from Dr. Rabbani's lab provide undergraduate students a wide range of career opportunities. These include graduate school, medical or professional school, and industrial jobs. It also enhances the students' critical thinking abilities, gives them hands-on experience with different instruments, and builds their analysis and presentation skills.

A look over the list of recent graduates who worked with Dr. Rabbani shows the range of their career possibilities. The list includes students pursuing D.D.S., M.D., or Ph.D. graduate work as well as students who have begun careers in industry. Though their paths are diverse, the skills they acquired as undergraduate researchers at UW-Platteville will serve them throughout their lives and careers. 

It will be just as exciting to see where they go as it will be to find out how nanoporous materials will shape our technological future.

  • Research from this project has been presented at the following events:

    • Wisconsin Science & Technology Symposium (WSTS 2016-2019)
    • Riley Sasse's summer research on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) in removal of toxic metals from water was highlighted by NBC15 news (NBC15.com in Madison, WI), August 2, 2019.
    • Riley Sasse presented his summer research activities at 12th Annual Wisconsin Science & Technology Symposium (WSTS 2019)
    • Jalynn Schuh and Hyeong Cheol Yoo (David) presented their research at the Research in the Rotunda, April 17, 2019, at the Wisconsin State Capitol. 
    • Halynn Schuh and Hyeong Cheol Yoo (David) presented their posters at Pioneer Creative Activities and Research Day (PCARD) 2019.
    • Bailey and Madeline won the poster award Wisconsin Science & Technology Symposium (WSTS 2017).
    • Jamison won the best posted award in Regional Materials and Manufacturing Network (RM2N), 2017.
    • Patrick, Autumn, Nicholas, and Jamison won the poster award at Wisconsin Science & Technology Symposium (WSTS 2016). 
  • Faculty

    Dr. Mohammad Rabbani
    Principal Investigator
    Chemistry
    rabbanim@uwplatt.edu

    Dr. Rabbani earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry with honors and went to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry and material science before joining the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2013.

    Dr. Rabbani's research interests include synthesis on metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) adn porous organic polymers featuring with heteroatom functionalities for selective gas capture, construction of heterogeneous catalysts, and drug storage applications. He also has research interest in the synthesis of porphyrins and porphyrin-based supramolecules for light harvesting applications. 

    Students

    Jack A Orlando
    Research Assistant
    Major: Chemistry

    Riley Sasses
    Research Assistant
    Major: Chemistry

    Jalynn C Schuh
    Research Assistant
    Major: Chemistry

    Hyeong Cheol Yoo (David)
    Research Assistant
    Major: Chemistry

    Alumni

    Michael Boushley
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Occupation: Nursing
    Major Chemistry

    Allison Byrd
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Know Organization: Graduate School at University of Connecticut
    Major: Chemistry
    Research Interests: Environmental Chemistry

    Patrick A Drazkowski
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Organization: Medical School at Rush University Medical College
    Major: Chemistry

    Barry Graffagna
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Organization: Graduate School at Wright State University
    Major: Chemistry
    Research Interests: Microbiology and Immunology

    Jessica L Heitsman
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last known organization: unknown
    Major: Chemistry

    Nicholas A Loes
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Know Organization: unknown
    Major: Chemistry

    Ashley R Moore
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Major: Chemistry

    Autumn R Nelson
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Major: Chemistry

    Bailey Rockwood
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Organization: Assistant Scientist position with PPD in Middleton, WI
    Major: Chemistry

    Brittany M Roe
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Major: Chemistry

    Jacob J Taylor
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Major: Chemistry

    Jamison R Tibbetts
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Organization: Graduate School
    Major: Chemistry

    Katherine A VonArx
    Previous Research Assistant (Alumni)
    Last Known Organization: Dental School at Marquette University
    Major: Chemistry
    Research Interests: Dentistry

    Jamison R Wallace
    Previous Research Assistant
    Last Known Organization: Graduate School
    Major: Chemistry

    Madeline R Zilles
    Previous Research Assistant
    Last Known Organization: Coating Place, Inc
    Major: Chemistry

Join our Research Group

Students involved in Dr. Rabbani's research generally work in his lab twice a week and have the option of working full time over the summer.

The work includes planning, setting up, and carrying out experimental procedures to achieve a goal, then analyzing the results. Those experimental results are shared at conferences, such as the one held by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Troubleshooting is often necessary, and Dr. Rabbani lends assistance when needed. Students are trained in laboratory procedures and the use of specific equipment, and all majors are welcome. The main requirement is that students have completed at least General Chemistry II or Chemistry of Engineers, to ensure that they possess a good foundation in chemistry to draw from.

We are always looking for highly motivated students. If you are interested in a more in-depth research experience in nanoporous materials, particularly in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), water purification, catalysis, or drug storage, please contact Dr. Rabbani.

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