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Faculty - Dr. Nick Vukotic

Dr. Nick Vukotic- Chemistry

Dr. Nick Vukotic

Inorganic/Materials Chemistry
Ph.D. (University of Windsor)

Assistant Professor
Industrial Research Chair
253-3000 Ext. 3572
375-3 Essex Hall
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Our research is dedicated to the design, synthesis, and characterization of new solid-state crystalline materials with industrial applications as adsorbents, chemical sensors, and biomaterials. We also have a strong interest in developing new research tools and devices required for high-throughput screening, and in-situ characterization of these materials via X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques. Members of our group benefit from the multidisciplinary nature of our work and gain skills in the following areas: organic/inorganic synthesis, crystallization, purification, spectroscopy, materials characterization, and various X-ray diffraction characterization methods. Group members also get to be involved in the design, fabrication, and testing of new XRD-based research tools and devices by working closely with our industry partner.

Metal-organic Frameworks for controlled release of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs)

‚ÄčEvery Year billions of dollars are spent on the discovery of new pharmaceuticals, which offer safer, more effective treatments for diseases and ailments. Drug release materials offer a way to drastically improve medications currently available by controlling when, where, and how rapidly pharmaceuticals are released. However, current drug release materials, largely based on organic polymers, lipids, and metallic nanoparticles, suffer from low drug loadings, poor control over drug release kinetics, stability problems, and a variety of reproducibility issues. Metal-organic Frameworks (MOFs) offer several potential advantages over currently used materials due to their higher drug loading capabilities and their high degree of modularity/reproducibility. In our research we are targeting a new subclass of materials in which the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is directly encapsulated or incorporated into the MOF material during synthesis, thus avoiding the ineffective post-synthetic loading methods used to incorporate drugs into current release materials. Our group is working towards developing a universal protocol for the direct incorporation of any small molecule pharmaceutical into a controllable MOF drug release matrix constructed from low toxicity metals and organics. We are also targeting the development of nano-crystalline materials with favorable drug release rates, which can also be activated to release their drug payload when exposed to an appropriate stimulus such as light or a high acidity environment. The advancement of nanotechnologies for drug release is a rapidly growing area, and this research stream offers the possibility to develop better medical treatments and new technologies within Canada.

Dynamic Porous Crystals (DPCs)

Stimuli-responsive porous crystals have shown significant advantages over traditional solids and have potential industrial applications as nanoporous adsorbents, chemical sensors, and biomaterials. We are interested in developing new porous crystalline materials from metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent-organic frameworks (COFs), and hydrogen-bonded organic frameworks (HOFs), which undergo large amplitude structural changes in response to both chemical and physical external stimuli, such as gas, vapor, liquid, heat, light, or electrochemical response. By determining the fundamental driving forces which influence the dynamics of stimuli-responsive porous crystalline materials we can begin to develop these materials by design for targeted industrial applications.

XRD-based screening and in-situ characterization tools

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a characterization technique used to analyze all types of materials, including metals, minerals, organic and inorganic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, polymers, and nanomaterials. Diffraction occurs as X-rays interact with an ordered (crystalline) material, revealing detailed structural information and giving insight into structure-property relationships of the material. This project allows for the ability to develop new XRD-based instrumentation as well as in-situ characterization and high-throughput screening devices. These new research tools will be used to optimize the production, screening, and characterization of new stimuli-responsive porous crystalline materials (DPCs) and gain insight into their mechanisms of operation.‚Äč

Other Relevant Descriptors: X-ray diffraction (XRD), in-situ characterization, materials chemistry, stimuli-responsive crystals, high-throughput screening, nanoporous adsorbents, metal-organic frameworks, chemical sensors, polymer nanocomposites, biomaterials

More details are available at our group website.


  • J.M. Taylor, P.J. Dwyer, J. W. Reid, B.S. Gelfand, D. Lim, M. Donoshita, S.L. Veinberg, H. Kitagawa, V.N. Vukotic, and G.K.H. Shimizu, Holding open micropores with water: hydrogen-bonded networks supported by hexaaquachromium(III) cations, Chem, 2018, 4 (4), 868-878.

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