Andy Knight, associate professor of chemistry, was awarded a five-year, $963,777 contract from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C. With collaborators at the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering at NRL, Knight and his Florida Tech research group are studying the cooperative effects of organic and inorganic coordination complexes on the catalytic degradation of organophosphorus compounds. These compounds are of interest because of their similarities to a number of phosphorus-containing chemical warfare agents such as Sarin and VX.
Knight's approach is to use gold nanoparticles as a platform for controlling the spatial positioning of molecules around catalytic metal centers. It is much like nature's version of catalytic systems, a three-dimensional arrangement of molecules around a metal within enzymes.
Knight's group, funded by DTRA since 2006, has been working in the broad area of antiviral and antibacterial therapeutics based on metal complexes.