The Hernández Sánchez Research Group (HSG) is an interdisciplinary group interested in combining supramolecular, organic-inorganic, and materials chemistry to synthesize functional systems that bridge the gap between nanoscale materials and molecular chemistry. Our research seeks to develop and establish new synthetic methodologies to access well-defined nanometer-sized metal clusters where we can investigate surface structure-function relationships relevant in catalytic and magnetic materials. A second thrust in our group focuses on the design, synthesis, and material’s applications of contorted aromatics, most importantly we seek to create and control frameworks with radial conjugation, akin to molecular-scale wires. Last, our supramolecular design approach to anion receptors has opened the door to a vast landscape of unexplored chemistry towards the recognition of large and nonspherical anions, some of which are found in the environment as toxic chemicals. Students in the HSG will engage in synthetic chemistry and develop familiarity with a range of spectroscopic, electrochemical, crystallographic, and magnetic techniques. While rooted in synthetic chemistry, research in the HSG will interface with materials, theory, and physical chemistry, potentially impacting the fields of optoelectronic materials, catalyst design, and environmental remediation.
Raúl joined the Chemistry faculty at Rice in 2022 and is the Norman Hackerman Welch Young Investigator Junior Chair. Prior to joining Rice, Raúl was an Assistant Professor from 2018 to 2022 in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. He was born in Chihuahua, México. During his undergraduate years Raúl worked intermittently as a research assistant in the laboratory of Prof. Sossina Haile (Caltech) in the summers of 2007-09, and spring of 2008. Later, he explored the formation of ionic membranes under the guidance of Prof. Beate Klösgen at the Southern University of Denmark in the spring of 2009. He received a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry at ITESM Campus Monterrey in 2010 defending a thesis under the direction of Prof. Jesús Angel Valencia on the synthesis of drug-loaded dendrimers. He then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry at Harvard under the mentorship of Prof. Ted Betley. After completing his thesis on the Coordination Chemistry and Electronic Structure of Iron Clusters, he then moved to Columbia University as a Columbia Nano Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow to work under the supervision of Prof. Colin Nuckolls. At Rice University, his group's research interests lie at the interface between synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry to create novel functional materials and catalysts capable of activating small molecules at polynuclear reaction sites, the creation of novel contorted aromatics, and the design of anion receptors for the removal of toxic chemicals from our environment.