Tori Z. Forbes

Tori Z. Forbes
Associate Professor
W374 CB
Office Hours: 
Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30a-10:00a or by appointment
  • B.S. Beloit College (2001)
  • Ph.D. University of Notre Dame (2007), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences 
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame (2007-2008)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, NEAT-ORU, University of California at Davis (2008-2010)

Synthesis and characterization of novel actinide-based (232Th, 238U, 237Np) nanotubes and molecular clusters; X-ray diffraction and scattering techniques; transport and mobility of nuclear materials in aqueous environmental systems; radiochemistry.

Research Interests: 

Fundamental Actinide Chemistry

Actinides have fascinating chemical properties due to the complex nature of their 5f electrons that may lead to unique catalytic, electronic, and optical properties.  Of particular interest is the development of novel actinide nanomaterials for use in advanced technologies and as geochemical model compounds to understanding the mobility of nuclear waste in environmental systems.  We use a variety of low-temperature synthesis techniques to create novel materials containing thorium (232Th) , uranium (238U), and neptunium (237Np) that are characterized by single-crystal X-ray diffraction, NMR, Raman and IR spectroscopy, and thermogravimetric analysis.


Development of Metal Organic Nanotubes

The development of novel nanomaterials with unique water transport and storage properties is important to technological advances in separations, catalysis, drug delivery, and environmental remediation. Development of novel hybrid materials, such as metal-organic nanotubes (MONs) are of particular interest as they are amenable to structural engineering strategies and may exhibit unique properties based upon the presence of inorganic components. The Forbes Research Group has recently synthesized and structurally characterized a unique U(VI) MON that displays permanent porosity and thermal stability. The compound contains ordered water that structurally resembles Ih ice and exhibits low-temperature, reversible water adsorption that can be controlled by solvent polarity. “Ice channels” within single-walled carbon nanotubes have been predicted by computational methods, but the structural nature of nanoconfined water has yet to be determined experimentally.  We are currently developing novel MONs based upon actinide, main-group, and transition metals that can be developed into novel water purification membranes and separations technologies.  This research is supported by NSF Career Award – Division of Solid State and Materials Chemistry.

uranium-based metal organic nanotubes

The uranium-based metal organic nanotubes contain “ice channels” within the center of the nanotube and display unique selectivity to water.

Transport of Nuclear Waste and Heavy Metals in Environmental Systems

Actinides are a major source of radioactivity associated with nuclear waste and their transport in environmental systems is enhanced through adsorption onto small (1-5 nm) nanoparticles.  The Forbes research group synthesizes novel actinide nanomaterials that are used as geochemical model compounds to enhance our understanding of the mobility of nuclear materials in environmental systems.   Single-crystal X-ray diffraction and synchrotron techniques, such as high-energy X-ray scattering, are used to provide a molecular-level understanding of the structural characteristics of the 232Th and 238U complexes that will aid in the development of novel remediation methods for nuclear materials.

We also investigate the adsorption of heavy metals onto small aluminum and iron oxyhydroxide particles to provide a molecular level understanding of contaminant transport in environmental systems by synthesizing and structurally characterizing geochemical model compounds.  These compounds are also investigated by computational methods through collaborations with Dr. Sara Mason in the Physical Chemistry Division.  In addition, the transport of these particles through geologic media is being explored through collaborations with Dr. Adam Ward in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.  This research is currently supported by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Faculty Development Award.

 aluminum oxyhydroxide nanoparticles

The synthesis and characterization of aluminum oxyhydroxide nanoparticles that are 2 nm in diameter have provided insight into the adsorption of heavy metals within environmental systems.

Recent Publications: 
  • Jayasinghe, A., S.H. Saltzman, and T.Z. Forbes* “Impact of dopants on exchange properties of metal organic nanotubes.”  (2016), Crystal Growth and Design DOI:10.1021/acs.cgd.6b01268

  • Nelson, A.W. A. Johns, E. S. Eitrheim, A. W. Knight, M. Basile, A. Bettis III, M. K. Schultz and T.Z. Forbes “Barium confounds utility of Radium as environmental indicator of Marcellus shale unconventional drilling waste.”  (2016) Environmental Science:  Processes and Impacts 18, 456-463.

  • Lu, G., T.Z. Forbes, and A. J. Haes “Evaluating Best Practices in Raman Spectral Analysis for Uranium Speciation and Relative Abundance in Aqueous Solutions.”  (2016) Analytical Chemistry 88, 773-780.

  • Fairley, M, K. Corum, A. Johns, D.K. Unruh, M. Basile, S.E. Mason, and T. Z. Forbes “Isolation and characterization of the [Ga2Al18O8(OH)36(H2O)12]8+ cluster:  cationic variations on the Wells-Dawson topology.” (2015) Chemical Communications 51, 12467-12469.

  • Jayasinghe, A, D.K. Unruh, A. Kral, and T. Z. Forbes “Structural features in metal organic nanotube crystals that influence stability and solvent uptake.” (2015) Crystal Growth and Design 15, 4062-4070

  • Basile, M., D.K. Unruh, K. Gojdas, E. Flores, L. Streicher, and T. Z. Forbe* “Chemical controls on uranyl citrate speciation and the self-assembly of nanoscale macrocycles and sandwich complexes in aqueous solutions.” (2015) Chemical Communications (Emerging Young Investigator Edition) 51, 5306-5309.

  • Basile, M, D.K. Unruh, E. Flores, A. Johns, and T. Z. Forbes “Structural characterization of environmentally relevant ternary uranyl citrate complexes present in aqueous solutions and solid state materials.” (2015) Dalton Transactions (Special Edition on f-element chemistry) 44, 2597-2605.

  • Sahu, S. K., D.K. Unruh, T.Z. Forbes, and A. Navrotsky “Energetics of formation and hydration of a porous metal organic nanotube.” (2014) Chemistry of Materials 26, 5105-5112.

  • Unruh, Daniel K., K. Gojdas, E. Flores, A. Libo, and T.Z. Forbes “Synthesis and structural characterization of hydrolysis products within the uranyl iminodiacetate and malate systems.” (2013), Inorganic Chemistry 52(17), 10191-10198.

  • Abeysinghe, S., D. Unruh, and T.Z. Forbes “Surface modification of the Al30 Keggin-type polyaluminum molecular cluster.” (2013), Inorganic Chemistry 52(10) 5991-5999.

  • Unruh, D. K., K. Gojdas, A. Libo, and T. Z. Forbes “Synthesis and characterization of metal-organic nanotubes exhibiting reversible adsorption of confined “ice channels”.  (2013) Journal of the American Chemical Society 135(20), 7398-7401.

  • Fairley, M., D.K. Unruh, S. Abeysinghe, and T. Z. Forbes. “Synthesis and structural characterization of heterometallic thorium aluminum polynuclear molecular clusters.”  (2012), Inorganic Chemistry 51(17) 9491-9498.