California NanoSystems Institute
CNSI
Text Size: A A A A

Paula Diaconescu, Ph.D.

   
Associate Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry
Lab Director, Diaconescu Lab
Member, California NanoSystems Institute

Education:
Degrees:
Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003
B.Sc., University of Bucharest, 1998

Honors and Awards:
2007 UCLA, Faculty Career Development Award
2003 - 2005 BP Postdoctoral Fellowship
2002 MIT Department of Chemistry Teaching Assistant Award
2002 Bruker/MIT Symposium Poster Prize
1997 - 1998 P & G Fellowship
1994 - 1998 University of Bucharest, National Scholarship

Academic Experience:
Academic Experience:
2003 - 2005 California Institute of Technology

Contact Information:
Email Address: pld@chem.ucla.edu
Work Email Address: pld@chem.ucla.edu
Laboratory Address: Mol Sci Bldg 1210, 1220
Work Address: Mol Sci Bldg 1515
Laboratory: http://copper.chem.ucla.edu/pldgroup/index.htm
Work Phone Number: 1 (310) 794-4809 Work
Lab Number: 1 (310) 825-7937 Lab
Fax Number: 1 (310) 206-4038 Fax
Technical Research Interest:

These elements (rare earths) perplex us in our researches, baffle us in our speculations and haunt us in our dreams. They stretch like an unknown sea before us - mocking, mystifying and murmuring strange revelations and possibilities.

Sir William Crookes, Address to the British Association, 1887

The group will focus on applications of lanthanide and actinide organometallic chemistry to organic synthesis, small molecule activation, and biological mimics. Lanthanide and early actinide chemistry has witnessed an ever increasing interest over the past two decades. Lanthanides have already found multiple uses in organic synthesis, materials, and biomedical applications. In contrast, the development of applications for early actinide and especially uranium chemistry has lagged behind and most of the studies are still of mainly academic importance. The increased study of f element chemistry reflects the belief that the unique properties of these elements will give rise to chemistry that differs from transition metal chemistry, thus extending applications beyond the d element frontier.

Samarium diiodide (SmI2) has become one of the most widely used reducing agents in organic chemistry since the report of its facile synthesis in 1977. The chemistry of SmI2 has been thoroughly reviewed and it has been found that this compound can be successfully employed in a wide variety of transformations such as radical cyclizations, ketyl-olefin coupling, pinacolic coupling, Barbier-type reactions, aldol-type reactions, Reformatsky-type reactions, conjugate additions, and nucleophilic acyl substitutions. Shortly after the initial application of SmI2 to organic synthesis, it was observed that its reactivity and/or selectivity can be strongly influenced by the presence of various additives. One direction of research in the group will have as objective the development of well defined complexes to serve as models for the observed reactivity of SmI2 in the presence of additives. These studies should ultimately lead to the design of complexes that can be used in enantioselective/catalytic applications besides adding to the understanding of low valent organolanthanide chemistry.

The relative importance of the valence 5f orbitals in the bonding and electronic structure of actinide compounds continues to be the subject of considerable debate. To address such fundamental issues, the synthesis and investigation of a diverse range of organoactinides are necessary. In this respect, low valent, on one side, and high valent, on the other side, uranium complexes are targeted. Objectives such as uranium-nitride, uranium-phosphide, uranium-carbide, and uranium-uranium bonds have so far eluded synthetic chemists, but their feasibility has been supported by theoretical studies. Once generated, these and other types of unprecedented functionality will certainly exhibit new types of interesting and equally unprecedented reactivity.


Additional Information:

Paula Diaconescu has joined the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry department in 2005 after spending two-years as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Robert Grubbs at California Institute of Technology. She obtained her Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Cummins at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working on arene-bridged complexes of uranium. Her earlier education was completed in Romania, where she obtained her B.S. from University of Bucharest and worked on coordination complexes of transition metals and lanthanides at University Politehnica of Bucharest. Her current research efforts focus on the design of reactive metal complexes with applications to small molecule activation, organic synthesis, and polymer formation.

Selected Publications:

Broderick EM, Thuy-Boun PS, Guo N, Vogel CS, Sutter J, Miller JT, Meyer K, Diaconescu PL, Synthesis and Characterization of Cerium and Yttrium Alkoxide Complexes Supported by Ferrocene-Based Chelating Ligands, Inorg Chem, 2011, 50 (7), 2870-7.
Paula Diaconescu, Actinide chemistry: A tale of two nitrides, Nature Chemistry, 2010, 2, 705-6.
Marisa J. Monreal & Paula L. Diaconescu, The riches of uranium, Nature Chemistry, 2010, 2, 424.
Broderick, E. M. Diaconescu, P. L., Cerium(IV) catalysts for the ring-opening polymerization of lactide, Inorg Chem, 2009, 48 (11), 4701-6.
Monreal MJ, Diaconescu PL, A weak interaction between iron and uranium in uranium alkyl complexes supported by ferrocene diamide ligands , Organometallics, 2008, 27 (8), 1702-1706.
Colin T. Carver and Paula L. Diaconescu, Ring-Opening Reactions of Aromatic N-Heterocycles by Scandium and Yttrium Alkyl Complexes, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2008, 24 (130), 7558-7559.
Carver CT, Monreal MJ, Diaconescu PL, Scandium alkyl complexes supported by a ferrocene diamide ligand, Organometallics, 2008, 27 (3), 363-370.
Bercaw JE, Diaconescu PL, Grubbs RH, Hazari N, Kay RD, Labinger JA, Mehrkhodavandi P, Morris GE, Sunley GJ, Vagner P, Conversion of methanol to 2,2,3-trimethylbutane (triptane) over indium(III) iodide, Inorganic Chemistry, 2007, 46 (26), 11371-11380.
Gallon BJ, Kojima RW, Kaner RB, Diaconescu PL, Palladium nanoparticles supported on polyaniline nanofibers as a semi-heterogeneous catalyst in water, Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, 2007, 46 (38), 7251-7254.
Monreal MJ, Carver CT, Diaconescu PL, Redox processes in a uranium bis(1,1'-diamidoferrocene) complex, Inorganic Chemistry, 2007, 46 (18), 7226-7228.
Bercaw JE, Diaconescu PL, Grubbs RH, Kay RD, Kitching S, Labinger JA, Li XW, Mehrkhodavandi P, Morris GE, Sunley GJ, Vagner P , On the mechanism of the conversion of methanol to 2,2,3-trimethylbutane (triptane) over zinc iodide, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2006, 71 (23), 8907-8917.
Cherry JPF, Diaconescu PL, Cummins CC , Portability of the RNNMo(3+) core - Application to the synthesis of dinitrogen-derived trialkoxymolybdenum organodiazenido complexes, Canadian Journal of Chemistry, 2005, 83 (4), 302-307.
Soo, Han Sen; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Cummins, Christopher C. , A Sterically Demanding Enolate Ligand: Tantalum Ligation and Pyridine Coupling, Organometallics, 2004 (23(3)), 498-503.
Clough, Christopher R.; Greco, Jane B.; Figueroa, Joshua S.; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Davis, William M.; Cummins, Christopher C., Organic Nitriles from Acid Chlorides: An Isovalent N for (O)Cl Exchange Reaction Mediated by a Tungsten Nitride Complex, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2004 (126(25)), 7742-7743.
Stephens, Frances H.; Figueroa, Joshua S.; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Cummins, Christopher C., Molybdenum-Phosphorus Triple Bond Stabilization by Ancillary Alkoxide Ligation: Synthesis and Structure of a Terminal Phosphide Tris-1-methylcyclohexanoxide Complex, J. Am. Chem. Soc. , 2003 (125(31)), 9264-9265.
Diaconescu, Paula L.; Cummins, Christopher C. , Diuranium Inverted Sandwiches Involving Naphthalene and Cyclooctatetraene, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2002 (124(26)), 7660-7661.
Agapie, Theodor; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Cummins, Christopher C., Methine (CH) Transfer via a Chlorine Atom Abstraction/Benzene-Elimination Strategy: Molybdenum Methylidyne Synthesis and Elaboration to a Phosphaisocyanide Complex, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2002 (124(11)), 2412-2413.
Agapie, Theodor; Diaconescu, Paula L.; Mindiola, Daniel J.; Cummins, Christopher C. , Radical Scission of Symmetrical 1,4-Dicarbonyl Compounds: C-C Bond Cleavage with Titanium(IV) Enolate Formation and Related Reactions, Organometallics, 2002 (21(7)), 1329-1340.
Brask, Justin K., Dura-Vila, Victor, Diaconescu, Paula L., Cummins, Christopher C. , Vanadium nitride functionalization and denitrogenation by carbon disulfide and dioxide, Chem. Commun, 2002, 902-903.
Wong Allison W, Miller Kevin L, Diaconescu Paula L, Reactions of aromatic N-heterocycles with a lutetium benzyl complex supported by a ferrocene-diamide ligand, Dalton transactions (Cambridge, England : 2003), 2010, 39 (29), 6726-31.
Duhović Selma, Monreal Marisa J, Diaconescu Paula L, Reactions of aromatic heterocycles with uranium alkyl complexes, Inorganic chemistry, 2010, 49 (15), 7165-9.
Green Aaron G, Kiesz Matthew D, Oria Jeremy V, Elliott Andrew G, Buechler Andrew K, Hohenberger Johannes, Meyer Karsten, Zink Jeffrey I, Diaconescu Paula L, Characterization of an iron-ruthenium interaction in a ferrocene diamide complex, Inorganic chemistry, 2013, 52 (9), 5603-10.
Monreal Marisa J, Diaconescu Paula L, Reversible C-C coupling in a uranium biheterocyclic complex, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2010, 132 (22), 7676-83.
Huang Wenliang, Dulong Florian, Wu Tianpin, Khan Saeed I, Miller Jeffrey T, Cantat Thibault, Diaconescu Paula L, A six-carbon 10π-electron aromatic system supported by group 3 metals, Nature communications, 2013, 4 (9), 1448.
Duhović Selma, Khan Saeed, Diaconescu Paula L, In situ generation of uranium alkyl complexes, Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 2010, 46 (19), 3390-2.
Elliott Andrew G, Green Aaron G, Diaconescu Paula L, Transfer hydrogenation with a ferrocene diamide ruthenium complex, Dalton transactions (Cambridge, England : 2003), 2012, 41 (26), 7852-4.
Monreal Marisa J, Diaconescu Paula L, The riches of uranium, Nature chemistry, 2010, 2 (5), 424.
Diaconescu Paula L, Cummins Christopher C, μ-η6,η6-Arene-bridged diuranium hexakisketimide complexes isolable in two states of charge, Inorganic chemistry, 2012, 51 (5), 2902-16.
Miller Kevin L, Williams Bryan N, Benitez Diego, Carver Colin T, Ogilby Kevin R, Tkatchouk Ekaterina, Goddard William A, Diaconescu Paula L, Dearomatization reactions of N-heterocycles mediated by group 3 complexes, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2010, 132 (1), 342-55.
Huang Wenliang, Diaconescu Paula L, P4 activation by group 3 metal arene complexes, Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 2012, 48 (16), 2216-8.
Carver Colin T, Benitez Diego, Miller Kevin L, Williams Bryan N, Tkatchouk Ekaterina, Goddard William A, Diaconescu Paula L, Reactions of group III biheterocyclic complexes, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009, 131 (29), 10269-78.
Broderick Erin M, Guo Neng, Wu Tianpin, Vogel Carola S, Xu Cuiling, Sutter Jörg, Miller Jeffrey T, Meyer Karsten, Cantat Thibault, Diaconescu Paula L, Redox control of a polymerization catalyst by changing the oxidation state of the metal center, Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 2011, 47 (35), 9897-9.
Broderick Erin M, Diaconescu Paula L, Cerium(IV) catalysts for the ring-opening polymerization of lactide, Inorganic chemistry, 2009, 48 (11), 4701-6.
Monreal Marisa J, Khan Saeed I, Kiplinger Jaqueline L, Diaconescu Paula L, Molecular quadrangle formation from a diuranium μ-η6,η6-toluene complex, Chemical communications (Cambridge, England), 2011, 47 (32), 9119-21.
Monreal Marisa J, Khan Saeed, Diaconescu Paula L, Beyond C-H activation with uranium: a cascade of reactions mediated by a uranium dialkyl complex, Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 2009, 48 (44), 8352-5.
Huang Wenliang, Khan Saeed I, Diaconescu Paula L, Scandium arene inverted-sandwich complexes supported by a ferrocene diamide ligand, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011, 133 (27), 10410-3.
Carver Colin T, Diaconescu Paula L, Ring-opening reactions of aromatic N-heterocycles by scandium and yttrium alkyl complexes, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2008, 130 (24), 7558-9.
Broderick Erin M, Guo Neng, Vogel Carola S, Xu Cuiling, Sutter Jörg, Miller Jeffrey T, Meyer Karsten, Mehrkhodavandi Parisa, Diaconescu Paula L, Redox control of a ring-opening polymerization catalyst, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011, 133 (24), 9278-81.
Halim Merissa, Kennedy Robert D, Suzuki Mitsuharu, Khan Saeed I, Diaconescu Paula L, Rubin Yves, Complexes of gold(I), silver(I), and copper(I) with pentaaryl[60]fullerides, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011, 133 (17), 6841-51.
Williams Bryan N, Benitez Diego, Miller Kevin L, Tkatchouk Ekaterina, Goddard William A, Diaconescu Paula L, An unusual hydrogen migration/C-H activation reaction with group 3 metals, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011, 133 (13), 4680-3.
Gallon Benjamin J, Kojima Robert W, Kaner Richard B, Diaconescu Paula L, Palladium nanoparticles supported on polyaniline nanofibers as a semi-heterogeneous catalyst in water, Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 2007, 46 (38), 7251-4.
Monreal Marisa J, Carver Colin T, Diaconescu Paula L, Redox processes in a uranium bis(1,1'-diamidoferrocene) complex, Inorganic chemistry, 2007, 46 (18), 7226-8.
Broderick Erin M, Thuy-Boun Peter S, Guo Neng, Vogel Carola S, Sutter Jörg, Miller Jeffrey T, Meyer Karsten, Diaconescu Paula L, Synthesis and characterization of cerium and yttrium alkoxide complexes supported by ferrocene-based chelating ligands, Inorganic chemistry, 2011, 50 (7), 2870-7.
Huang Wenliang, Carver Colin T, Diaconescu Paula L, Transmetalation reactions of a scandium complex supported by a ferrocene diamide ligand, Inorganic chemistry, 2011, 50 (3), 978-84.
Williams Bryan N, Huang Wenliang, Miller Kevin L, Diaconescu Paula L, Group 3 metal complexes of radical-anionic 2,2'-bipyridyl ligands, Inorganic chemistry, 2010, 49 (24), 11493-8.
Diaconescu Paula L, Reactions of aromatic N-heterocycles with d0fn-metal alkyl complexes supported by chelating diamide ligands, Accounts of chemical research, 2010, 43 (10), 1352-63.
Diaconescu Paula, Actinide chemistry: A tale of two nitrides, Nature chemistry, 2010, 2 (9), 705-6.