Ruben Canton Vitoria
Chemist and scientific communicator

Rubén is a chemical graduate specialized in the area of organic chemistry and experienced in the synthesis of inorganic compounds as two-dimensional materials.

During the last years Rubén has worked in the area of nano-technology, specifically in obtaining mono- and oligo- layers of MoS2, WS2, graphene and graphene oxide.  These materials are the present and the future of new technological devices, allowing to make sensors, transistors and LEDs more powerful. They also have a promising future in the area of solar energy, allowing to make a new type of photovoltaic cells.

Graphene has great advantages, conductivity only surpassed by superconductors, a transparency greater than 95% (single monolayer), mechanical stability and high flexibility.

On the other hand, MoS2 and WS2 monolayers (TMDs), in general, have the same properties as graphene, but worse. However, they have a big difference. These materials are semiconductors. They have a band gap within the visible spectrum region that make them very attractive for transistors (upper on-off ratio of 1000,000) and photovoltaic cells.

These materials can be functionalized (mixed) with a wide variety of compounds and materials, modifying their properties so that they acquire certain additional properties such as improving solubility, absorbing light, improving their sensitivity and even adding biological compounds so that they can interact with the body and detect certain diseases.

That's the work Ruben's doing now.

Scientific Relevance

The work of Rubén Canton Vitoria, can be found summarized in google Schoolar, ResearchGates or by looking at its ORCID.

Among the most relevant projects of Rubén stands out, his first project, the addition of naftoles to quetamin derivatives within the organic chemistry asymmetry, with yields and strioquímics greater than 99% using reactions of aza-Friedel–Crafts. This project opens the door to a type of unexplored reaction, with great performance, which can be very useful in medicine.

But his doctoral thesis, as we have said, focuses on the functionalization of MoS2 and WS2.

In the most relevant project Rubén used derivatives of pyrenees functionalized with lipoic acid, which have a functional group of 1,2-dithiolan. This functional group interacts with the transition metals of the TMDs (W or Mo) that are discovered at the edges. The pyrenees showed electronic interactions with MoS2 that can be described as transfer of energy or electrons between the two materials. In this way, 1- A new type of functionalization was demonstrated and 2- A synergistic effect between both components. The relevance of this article allowed Reuben to draw an article in the prestigious scientific journal of Nature.

Later, he functionalized MoS2 and WS2 with quantum dots using the 1.2-ditolan reaction. Here it was shown that each TMDs acts differently, because, although both materials (MoS2 and WS2) found energy transfer from quantum dots to MoS2 and WS2, only electron transfer from MoS2 to quantum dots was found.

It was later shown that MoS2 can also act as an acceptor electron when functionalized with phthalocins. That is, depending on the characteristics of the added chromophore, TMDs can act one matera or another.

But lipoic acid functionalization has other benefits. It increases solubility and allows to incorporate other compounds using supramolecular chemistry are some of them.

A clear example was the operation of MoS2 and WS2 with polythiophene (Designed to be very water soluble). This hybrid proved capable of generating electricity through light. This means that, finally, these materials can be used in nanotechnology.

Scientific disclosure

Ever since, Ruben has firmly believed in science. For the sake of progress, it is necessary for anyone to have minimal knowledge of science.

More in these times, where not only pseudosciences like homeopathy take strength, but others, more absurd and dangerous such as anti-vaccines or terraplanist movements become increasingly noticeable.

Ruben decided to focus on disclosing what he knew. What I study at the University of Valencia and its master's degree. Organic chemistry.

For a time working at the National Hellenic Research Foundation. Specifically at the Theoretical and Physicl Chemistry Institute. The global research group in which he was involved, Enabling Excellence, proposed, conducting an activity outside of work. Ruben decided to do a scientific outreach activity and created the ChemiProject game.

What had to be the work of an afternoon became a very powerful idea, realizing what we rated as the best organic chemistry game.

Showing a lot of chemicals in a very clever way, with chemical charts. Showing your real formula and the use you are given. Also shown with a simple color system the reactivity they possess.

Without a doubt, this game has expanded like gunpowder and is one of Ruben's great achievements in the field of scientific outreach. You will find a free version and even some online video games.