One of the most widely used chemical warfare agent (CWA) is mustard gas, a highly toxic blistering agent. We investigated the interactions of mustard gas surrogates’ vapors on zinc and zirconium hydroxides and their composites with graphite oxide (GO) and/or Au or Ag nanoparticles. Even though a small quantity of reports about the detoxification of CWAs on metal oxides is reported in the literature, almost all of these studies are performed in the liquid phase. Both herein reported Zn(OH)2 and Zr(OH)4 showed a good adsorption performance, with the former being photoactive under visible light irradiation. The synthesis of the composites with graphite oxide resulted in materials with improved detoxification capability due to the synergistic effect on the structural and chemical features. The density of the hydroxyl groups per surface area showed to play the most crucial role. The further addition of nanoparticles led to an increased catalytically decomposition of mustard gas surrogate to less or non-toxic products. Based on the analysis of the volatile products and those retained on the surface of the adsorbents, the involved mechanisms were concluded.
Other materials (like copper hydroxide nanorods, photoactive composites based on MOFs, zinc peroxide nanoparticles, oxidized graphitic carbon nitride nano-spheres, ferrihydrite, mixed oxide nanoparticles etc) were additionally tested in parallel against vapors of mustard gas or nerve agents surrogates. Their deposition on textiles/fibers was also started to be analyzed during my PhD period. These projects were continued afterwards...
From WWI to Multifunctional Nanocomposites Approaches.
Based on the PhD Thesis of mine
D.A. Giannakoudakis, J.A. Arcibar-Orozco, T.J. Bandosz,
Applied Catalysis B, 2016, 183, 37-46
D.A. Giannakoudakis, N.A. Travlou, J. Secor, T.J. Bandosz,
Small, 2017, 13, 1601758
D.A. Giannakoudakis, J.K. Mitchell, T.J. Bandosz,
Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2016, 4, 1008-1019
R. Wallace, D. A. Giannakoudakis, M. Florent, C. Karwachi, T.J. Bandosz,
Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2017, 5, 4972-4981
D.A. Giannakoudakis, M. Jiang, T.J. Bandosz,
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2016, 8, 31986-31994
D.A. Giannakoudakis, J.A. Arcibar-Orozco, T.J. Bandosz, Applied Catalysis B, 2015, 174, 96-104
“Chemistry is life; life is Chemistry”. Ever since I was a little boy I can still remember my late grandfather’s words. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to study chemistry. I am feeling blessed and lucky to have the chance to complete my education in the center of the world. Maybe New York is not my home, my birth town, but it became the place of my scientific re-birth. After my first master degree, I chose to explore alternative professional pathways, far away from chemistry. Even though I was always teaching chemistry as a tutor, there was always a hidden desire to continue in a more professional and scientific level in order to obtain a PhD. The lifetiming did not seem to work out until a simple phrase brought to light and triggered catalytically my thoughts about this desire: “Why you don’t try to come to USA for your PhD?”. This was some years before I deposited my application to CUNY. Even though I had a full life in Greece, my friends and family forced me to try. Luckily, after four and a half years of a scientific journey in the concrete jungle of New York, I can definitely say that it was absolutely worth it.
It would be impossible to start and of course to fulfill this fabulous journey without the direct or indirect help and support of countless people. But, I would like to express my supreme and sincere gratitude to the Professor, who not only helped me to improve my knowledge from a scientific standpoint, but also triggered my desire to try for this! Without guidance and mentoring from Prof. Bandosz, this journey would be aimless. She challenged me to deliver my best. This was the most important objective. Although sometimes it was hard and stressful, I don’t regret not even for a second.
I will never forget my first paper. I was working continuously for days. I was feeling that both the scientific and linguistic part had to be improved. I was feeling that the level I would like the first draft to reach was far away, but I decided to send it on a Saturday afternoon, in order to receive the guidance and help, but above all to be honest, to relax and set my mind free for a while. But this never happened. I received the draft back very early the following day, full of helpful comments and suggestions; an absolutely valuable feedback. I was deeply impressed. I asked myself “How is it possible?”. This ultra-fast reply regenerated my power and working motivation. I took a fast shower, made a double coffee and started directly afterwards to work on it on Sunday morning. Some months later, the paper was published. My first paper as a first author was a reality in less than a year in the lab. Under Prof. Bandosz’ mentorship, I learned science, traveled the world to talk about science, published many peer-reviewed articles in some of the best journals. She has provided me with the unique opportunity to strengthen my professional and communication skills via the numerous conferences and collaborations. And in the last months, she spent a lot of time in order to sharpen this dissertation. I will be always thankful! It is important for a collaboration to end after three and a half years with emotions of admiration and respect.
The first Professor I met at the Graduate Center of CUNY was Prof. Maria Tamargo as an Executive Officer of the Chemistry PhD program. The way in which she discussed with me was so kind and supportive. Her welcome attitude and friendly approach with the warm smile made me feel like I knew her for years. Her recommendations and opinions concerning what is better for my future in the program were proved ultimately correct.
I was also lucky to choose to do my first rotation at Prof. Charles Michael Drain’s lab in Hunter College. His door was always open not only for scientific questions. He really cared to listen and propose what is the best to be done. During the months working in his lab, the quantity and quality of knowledge which I gain about organic chemistry helped me a lot in my later research. Especially at the lab meetings when he was starting from a small question and ended up showing many theoretical and experimental pathways of approaching the problems.
The nanotechnology subdiscipline contributed to my understanding of another field of chemistry. Prof. Stephen O’Brien with a unique gentle and professional style excited my curiosity and motivated me to discover in more details this new nanoworld. He is, in my mind, as the prototype of how a young professor should be.
I would like to express my extended gratitude to these professors for serving on my Dissertation Committee. Their invaluable suggestions and comments during our meetings were totally helpful, while there were always there to respond to me questions. You helped me to grow academically, professionally, and personally. You made me feel welcome in USA.
My research would be not so productive without the fruitful discussions and help from the two Post-docs involved in the same research in detoxification of chemical warfare agents. Dr. Javier Arcibar-Orozco and Dr. Marc Florent, thank you for making my research life more productive. Our co-authorships will always connect us as chemists, but more importantly as friends.
Karifala Kante also made my everyday experiments faster. The lab was always perfectly organized and he was addressing immediately everything needed to move forward with the experiments. During every stressful personal situation, he was close to me as my eldest friend. Your voice will be always in my mind when I will listen to Sean Paul. The help from Dr. Mykola Seredych during my first steps in the lab is also deeply appreciated. Dr. Jorge Morales introduced me in the world of electron microscopy and I would like to sincerely thank him for his willingness to teach me how to obtain high quality TEM and SEM images.
I was always enjoying and gaining knowledge about optics and quantum chemistry during the sort-breaks with Dr. Jeff Secor.
My daily lab-life would not be so enjoyable without the presence of numerous colleagues, visiting scholars and students. Wanlu Li, Lilja Nelson, Nikolina Travlou, Rajiv Wallace, Mingyung Jiang, Joshua Mitchel, Oluwaniyi Mabayoje, Jimmy Escalada, Kavindra Singh, Paola Rodriguez Estupiñan, Mikolaj Koscinski, Amani Ebrahim, Yuping Hu, Carla Bastos Vidal, Barbara Herkt, Svetlana Bashkova, Manuel Algara, Maria Concepcion Ania, Lucie Laritte, Ren Tiezhen, Anna Kleyman thank you! I will be always there for you.
I would like also to express my appreciation to the colleagues during the first year in the program. But uppermost Waqar Rizvi, who was always willing to help me with various problems outside the lab. Our long term discussions opened up my mind. Rizvi you will be forever a best friend!
Many thanks also to my Greek friends in NYC for making feel like home. Vasili Deliyannaki, Lazaros Pappas, Antony Papaioannou, Marios Georgiou, Andrea Kakolyri, Stelios Tamouridi, and George Kimissi, you were responsible for limiting inside my mind the distance with Greece. Our Astoria-like nights will be unforgettable!
This journey would have been impossible without the scholarships from the Graduate Center of CUNY, Onassis Foundation, and A.G. Leventis Fountations. Moreover, the travel grants from NSF, Gerondelis Foundation, Quantachrome Instruments, Doctoral Students Research Grant number 9 and 11 from CUNY, and the program Conference Presentation Support for Ph.D. Students from the Graduate Center of CUNY offered me the opportunity to participate in many International conferences.
My PhD studies were also supported by the ARO (Army Research Office) of USA. The oportunity to visit their lab was unique.
To my parents: You gave me the opportunity, the skills and the freedom to follow my own path in life. With the mistakes and successes, failures and joys. But above all with the faith to fight for my goals without closing my eyes and trying to avoid the difficult trails. I was always feeling that during a moment of crisis, both you will be there!
Father, you will be always the prototype of the best academic teacher, but also of the best father. Various gained skills from you were always ultimetly usefull tools.
Mother, you supported me to take this chance and to go far away for the PhD, even though I knew that you would be in pain. You were always by my side to guide me in order to follow the correct life-track. Now you can relax, you did it! But more importantly, the unlimited love in which I grow up with, helped me to be full of the most important aspect in my life. Emotions. You are just the best mother! Both of you did a great job! You are the main reason I fulfilled my destiny! A thank you is not enough, but I know when I was coming back home, a hug was more than enough to feel my deepest love and respect.
I have to say that these years away from my country went smoothly, since my brother set up an environment in my mind that whatever it will happen, he would be there to solve the problem. And he did that in all cases, where his involvement was needed. You took care of everythin’k’ with a high level of responsibility! I had you in my mind as “my Young brother”, but the last years you proved in many cases that you are even bigger than me; I trust you definitely! Our favorite song “The Snow in New York - Chris de Burgh” was responsible for many tears of thrill. I sang these lyrics tooooo many times:
“There are those who fail, there are those who fall, There are those who will never win, Then there are those who fight for the things they believe, And these are men like you and me. You have always been such a good friend to me, Through the thunder and the rain, And when you're feeling lost in the snows of New York, Lift your heart and think of me.”
To those who are away, my grandparents: You were always in my thoughts on this journey – you are missed. I know that you would be ultimately happy and proud for my achievement. Especially the one who I have the honor to carry his name. Thank you for teaching me how to learn. I did your dream to be a chemist, but more importantly, your dream became mine. I am lucky that my academic grandfather, Dimitris or Takis, introduced me since I was a child to the world of chemistry, but also that Antonios showed me the art to think in life with dignity. The warm hug of my grandmothers was always a small but safe harbor for my soul, full with unconditional love. I can still feel you both!
I reserved my last sentences for the one who we lived this wonderful journey together. One is sure, that we filled our memory album with colorful pictures, which will always follow us. They are part of our life. Thank you Nikolina!
Maybe the language in this part is not perfect, but every sentence is coming from the bottom of my heart. It is hard for a Chemist to express in a few pages everything done in four and a half years in the fastest moving town in the world. I would like to close with the lyrics that gave me power the moments of crisis:
“For what is a man, what has he got If not himself, then he has naught To say the things, he truly feels And not the words of one who kneels “This thesis” shows I took the blows And did it my way”
Thank you for reading this, now you know better a big part of me!