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Jean-Luc Ayitou

Jean-Luc Ayitou, Ph.D.

Jean-Luc Ayitou
Assistant Professor in Chemistry






354 Robert A. Pritzker Science Center


Ph.D. Chemistry, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, North Dakota
B.S. Chemistry, North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, North Dakota

Research & Accomplishments 

Research in the AJA Laboratory is strongly interdisciplinary…crossing disciplines and blending conventional organic synthesis techniques and photophysical and photochemical paradigms to devise alternatives and complementary approaches for energy applications, organic materials and sustainable chemical synthesis (see Figure 1).

Research themes in the AJA group.

Figure 1: Research themes in the AJA group.

Fundamentally, the research themes in the AJA group are inspired by established concepts in organic chemistry, photochemistry, and physical organic chemistry. These concepts help to i) devise new molecular scaffolds and synthetic protocols and ii) rationalize molecular interactions and transformations.

The AJA group’s primary focus is energy transfer in organic crystalline materials. Specifically, we are investigating the diffusion and annihilation of excitons that originate from organic chromophores, which are known to form crystalline solids under ambient conditions. Additionally, the AJA group envisions to make use of the organic chromophores of interest to devise organic electronic devices. Also we aim to explore novel 2D frameworks for various applications such as patterning and stimuli responsive graphene-like sheets. Another area our group is interested in is synthetic organic photochemistry and photocatalysis with an emphasis on green and sustainable reaction conditions. Our contribution in this regard is to implement the 12 principles of Green Chemistry during the photochemical synthesis of bio-active molecular building blocks, natural products and macromolecular assemblies.

The AJA Lab welcomes students who are interested in organic synthesis, organic materials, photochemistry and photophysical methods including advanced spectroscopy, microscopy and X-ray crystallography techniques.


In our effort to promote diversity and a better and broader understanding of socio-cultural relevance to the Chemical Sciences, the AJA group has started an outreach program: VISCUS = Vivifying Scientific Curiosity for Underrepresented Undergraduate Students. Through this program, students are trained to use advanced spectroscopy tools to investigate common photochemical processes encountered in nature. We expect these students (VISCUS Scholars) to serve as ambassadors for scientific research in their respective communities.


Jean-Luc Ayitou did his graduate and postdoctoral trainings in organic chemistry, photochemistry, solid state organic chemistry and physical organic chemistry.

Ayitou's current research interests are:

  • Energy transfer (excitons diffusion) in organic crystalline solids
  • Stimuli responsive organic materials and patterning of 2D frameworks
  • Nanostructured biocompatible organic frameworks
  • Organic photocatalysis and synthetic photochemistry

Molecular recognition and supramolecular photochemistry


The following are selected recent publications...

  1. Vallavoju, N.; Sreenitya, A.; Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Jockusch, S.; Raghavan, B. S. and Sivaguru, J.; Photoreations with a Twist: Atropisomerism-driven Divergent reactivity of Enones with UV and Visible Light. Chem. Eur. J., 2016, 10.1002/chem.201601509
  2. Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Kristen Flynn; Steffen Jockush; Saeed I. Khan and Miguel Garcia-Garibay; More Efficient in the Solid State than in Solution: Transient Absorption and Kinetics Studies of Nanocrystalline α–(ortho-Tolyl)-acetophenones: J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.5b11657
  3. Clay, T.; Kumarasamy, E.; Ayitou, A. J.-L and J. Sivaguru: Photochemistry of Atropisomers: Non-biaryls Atropisomers for Stereospecific Phototransformations Chem. Lett. 2014, 43, 1816–1825.
  4. Ayitou, A. J.-L; Clay, T.; Kumarasamy, E.; Jockusch, S and J. Sivaguru; Enantiospecific photochemical 6p-ring closure of a-substituted atropisomeric acrylanilides—Role of alkali metal ions. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2014, 13, 141–144.
  5. Ayitou, A. J.-L; Gaku Fukuhara; Elango Kumarasamy; Yoshihisa Inoue; J. Sivaguru; Enantiospecific photochemical transformation under elevated pressure. Chem. Eur. J. 2013, 19 (13), 4327–4334.
  6. Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Pemberton, B. C.; Kumarasamy, E.; Vallavoju, N; Sivaguru, J. Selective light-induced reactions in solution and in water soluble nano-containers. Chimia. 2011, 65, 202–209.
  7. Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Vallavoju, N.; Ugrinov, A.; J. Sivaguru. Enantiospecific 6p-photocyclization of atropisomeric α-substituted acrylanilides in the solid-state. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2011, 10, 1380–1383.
  8. Ayitou, A. J.-L. and J. Sivaguru. Reactive spin state dependent enantiospecific photocyclization of axially chiral α-substituted acrylanilides. Chem. Comm. 2011, 47, 2568–2570.
  9. Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Josepha L. Jesuraj; Nilotpal Barooah; Angel Ugrinov and J. Sivaguru, Enantiospecific photochemical Norrish/Yang type II reaction of nonbiaryl atropchiral α-oxoamides in solution—Axial to point chirality transfer. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131(32), 11314–11315.
  10. Ayitou, A. J.-L. and J. Sivaguru, Light-Induced transfer of molecular chirality in solution: Enantiospecific photocyclization of molecularly chiral acrylanilides. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131(14), 5036–5037.
  11. Ayitou, A. J.-L.; Angel Ugrinov and J. Sivaguru, 6p-Photocyclization of O-tert-butylacrylanilides. N-substitution dictates the regiochemistry of cyclization Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2009, 8, 751–754.