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Inventing the Wheel: USU Grad Student's Paper is 'VIP’ in Top Journal

Thursday, Feb. 02, 2012

USU doctoral student Timur Galeev and professor Alex Boldyrev

USU doctoral student Timur Galeev, right, pictured with faculty mentor Alex Boldyrev, is first author on a paper selected for the top tier of a prestigious international chemistry journal.

illustration of a molecular nanowheel

Galeev and Boldyrev's research appears in the Feb. 2012 issue of 'Angewandte Chemie International Edition,’ a journal of the German Chemical Society. A depiction of the team’s novel molecular nanowheel appears on the lower right.

A paper recently published in a leading international chemistry journal by Utah State University graduate student Timur Galeev has been selected as a “Very Important Paper.”

Galeev is first author on the article, published in the Feb. 1, 2012, online issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a journal of the German Chemical Society.

“The ‘VIP’ designation means that Timur’s paper is among the top five percent of articles selected by the journal’s referees,” says Alexander Boldyrev, professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and faculty mentor to Galeev. “This is an impressive honor from a prestigious journal and an impressive accomplishment for a doctoral student.”

Boldyrev is quick to point out that Galeev has published 10 papers in peer-reviewed journals in the past year and a half. The doctoral student’s paper in Angewandte Chemie details the research team’s successful production of a molecular nanowheel that achieves the highest coordination number for a central atom to date.

“It’s a new record,” Boldyrev says.

In chemistry, the coordination number of an atom refers to total number of “neighbors” of a central atom in a molecule or ion. In this case, Galeev and Boldyrev, working in collaboration with Brown University scientists Constantin Romanescu, Wei-Li Li and Lai-Sheng Wang, modeled clusters of 10 boron atoms gathered in a ring-like structure, unlike any seen before. The highly symmetrical model resembles an old American West wagon wheel with ten spokes.

“It’s a very stable structure,” Galeev says. “It reveals a new understanding of how chemical bonding theory works.”

The team conducted the National Science Foundation-funded research using a laser-vaporization supersonic molecular beam technique combined with photoelectron spectroscopy and quantum-chemical calculations. Boldyrev’s alum Boris Averkiev, recipient of USU’s 2009 Robins Award as Graduate Researcher of the Year and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, contributed to the project’s calculations.

Boldyrev, recipient of USU’s 2009 D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award, says the research lays the groundwork for development of a variety of nano-objects.

“The development of these kinds of chemical bonding models will have a significant impact on rational design of nanocatalysts, nanomaterials with tailored properties, nano-scale electronic devices and more,” he says. “That’s our goal.”

Related links:

Contact: Alexander Boldyrev, 435-797-1630,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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