Vincent J. Catalano


Inorganic Chemistry

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

E-mail: vjc [at]
Phone: 775-784-1329
FAX: 775-784-6804
Office: CB 228

Vincent J. Catalano

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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.

vapocrhomic sensor


Selected Publications

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. Chem2009, 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(14), 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(24-25), 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.