FRI Chemistry Stream

Materials in Color

analytical chemistry, organic chemistry

our research

Our Research

In the Materials in Color (MiC) stream, we aim to understand the fundamental chemical and photophysical properties of a class of molecules called dyes and apply that knowledge to next-generation materials synthesis. Dyes are large, colorful, organic molecules that absorb light of various colors in the visible spectrum. This absorption of light causes the dye to become “excited,” and this excited dye molecule can be used to initiate useful chemical reactions for us. We’re particularly interested in polymerization reactions as an application for these light-excited dyes.


Our Strategy

MiC researchers investigate a class of dyes that have completely unknown chemical and photophysical properties. Characterizing these properties using principles of analytical and organic chemistry (reactivity studies, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry) will help us understand how the chemical structure of the dyes relate to their function as chemical reaction initiators. 

In our lab, teams of student researchers, along with knowledgeable peer mentors, characterize a dye of interest using a host of photophysical, spectroscopic, reactivity studies, and other analytical techniques. Students learn fundamental chemistry lab concepts and techniques throughout this characterization process.

The MiC stream strongly emphasizes:

  1. Baseline understanding of the “big-picture” goals of our research along with a fundamental understanding of key analytical chemistry and spectroscopy-related aspects of our research.
  2. A strong focus on science communication and data analysis, particularly getting frequent practice and useful feedback on written science communication.
  3. The apprenticeship model for learning laboratory skills necessary for success in our lab, future labs you take at UT, and beyond.

Our Impact

Soft materials, such as plastics, are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, however their production requires large amounts of energy, often in the form of heat. Light represents an abundant and renewable alternative for soft materials fabrication, yet contemporary light-driven industrial chemistry relies on the use of high intensity and high energy ultraviolet (UV) rays. To overcome these hurdles, MiC explores the use of organic dyes as efficient visible light-activated catalysts to generate next generation materials.

Our Team

Profile image of Tony Dylla

Tony Dylla

  • Assistant Professor of Practice
  • Freshman Research Initiative
  • College of Natural Sciences


Course Credit
Research Outcomes
  • Carlson, A.; Patade, M.;  Patil, N.; Tran, M.; Giorgberidze, H.; Rao, V.; Dylla, T. Preliminary investigations in photochemistry: fluorescence quantum yield, singlet oxgyen, and qualitative polymerization measurements of photoredox catalysts. [poster presentation] UT Undergraduate Research Forum, April 2022. *CNS Award for Excellence in Chemistry
  • Kukleryte, K.; Dylla, T. Materials in Color: Dye Photopolymerization. [poster presentation] Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium (FURS) 'Science Slam' presenter, April 2022.
  • Chahal, R. Creator and Editor of undergraduate student journal, 'Texas Eunoia'
    description: A student-run medical humanities journal taking UT undergraduate submissions in prose, poetry, visual art and more.