Jason Benedict, Professor of Chemistry
The sponges of the future will do more than clean house. For example, doctors could use a tiny sponge to soak up a drug and deliver it directly to a tumor. Engineers at a manufacturing plant could trap and store unwanted gases. Chemistry professor Jason Benedict designs and synthesizes metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) – hole-filled crystals which could serve as high-tech sponges, sopping up spilled oil, greenhouse gases, and other chemicals. Many MOFs lose their sponging capabilities over time. To overcome this hurdle, Benedict is studying what causes one particularly intriguing type of MOF to fail. He has created light-activated versions of the crystal sponges in his lab and hopes his work in understanding why they break down will provide insight into how scientists can extend their useful lives.
The research done in Benedict’s lab has broad applications. “From light-based computing and communication to the environmentally-friendly and cost-effective conversion of light from the sun into fuels and/or electrical energy, understanding and controlling the interaction of light and matter remains one of the great scientific challenges of the 21st century. With an emphasis on the study of light-matter interactions in crystalline materials, research in the Benedict lab involves the synthesis of novel materials and the development of new characterization techniques important to many areas of chemistry and physics.”
Benedict is a member of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics, which advances the study and development of new materials which could improve life for future generations. His research is funded in part by a $600,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award, one of the organization’s most prestigious recognitions for junior investigators.