James T. Spencer Ph.D.

Spencer, James T.
Position Department / Business Unit
Professor Department of Chemistry
Institution Disciplines
Syracuse University Chemistry
City State / Provence
Syracuse New York
Country Website
US link

Dr. Spencer’s current research interests include: Inorganic chemistry; organometallic chemistry; materials chemistry; solid state science; and cluster chemistry.

Dr. Spencer's Research:
The study of polyhedra, many-faced solids, has long intrigued and fascinated scientists and philosophers. Plato first described a series of five "pure" polyhedral bodies from which Archimedes later elegantly derived 13 semi-regular polyhedra. The field of cluster chemistry, however, most closely ties together the abstract study of pure polyhedra with the physical and chemical world. In particular, cluster chemistry may be thought of as the practical bridge between small molecule behavior, with more localized bonding, and that of extended solid arrays, with extensively delocalized electronic structures.

One aspect of our work focuses upon the development of new solid state boron-based materials as thin films, nanoparticles, and nanotubes. These materials display an enormous range of physical and chemical properties that have direct application to many areas. We have recently discovered several new chemical pathways for the formation of thin films of metal borides, along with the first-reported pathways for the fabrication of boron-based nanotubes and nanorod structures. These unique structures, for instance, are readily prepared, are remarkably uniform, and display very large aspect ratios.

In the second area of our work, we are exploring the chemistry of main group polyhedral clusters. The field spans the boundaries of traditional areas of inorganic, organometallic, and materials chemistry. Specifically, our research has focused upon the study of polyhedral based as new nonlinear optical compounds, the photochemical reactions of clusters, and the use of cluster and rigid molecules as molecular building blocks in the directed formation of nanoscale architectures.

Main group and organometallic clusters have presented considerable challenges to synthetic, structural, materials and theoretical chemists since their discovery nearly ninety years ago. The quest for a detailed understanding of the bonding and structural relationships of these species has led to an understanding of some of the fundamental chemistry of molecular polyhedra in general. Numerous critical applications of cluster-based compounds are being discovered with profound applications to medicine, materials science and industrial processes. The field is, however, far from maturity and many patterns of reactivity and structural relationships are just beginning to take form.


B.A., 1978, State University of New York at Potsdam; Ph.D., 1984, Iowa State University of Science and Technology; Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 1984-1986, University of Virginia


Contributor to the Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology, Second Edition (CRC Press) 2007.

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