Nava, Matthew


UCLA Chemistry faculty


As an undergraduate, Matt worked in the lab of Christopher Reed at the University of California, Riverside exploring the chemistry of icosahedral boron clusters and reactive cations. There, he prepared for the first time, the strongest known Brønsted acid, H[CHB11F11] and used it to protonate weak bases such as alkanes. After acquiring a masters degree at UCR, Matt went on to obtain his PhD with Christopher Cummins at MIT. At MIT, he honed his synthetic inorganic chemistry skills developing and exploring the chemistry of supramolecular architectures capable of acting as anion receptors and ligands for first row-transition metals in a protected cavity. This work led to fundamental insight into the degradation processes occurring in lithium-air batteries. Besides synthetic work, he also integrated spectroscopic techniques such as Laser-Induced Fluorescence, microwave spectroscopy, and molecular beam mass spectrometry to investigate reactive and short-lived molecules including phosphinidenes and the biologically important signaling molecule, HSNO. As a postdoctoral fellow, Matt started a new collaborative effort between the labs of Daniel Nocera and Daniel Kahne at Harvard to study the rate of formation of the outermost membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.

Research Interests

The Nava lab is interested in understanding how to efficiently translate molecular structure and reactivity to address challenges at the frontiers of materials, biological and energy conversion chemistries. Two broad thrusts will form the basis of the program: understanding the role of metals, particularly those in unusual oxidation states, in materials or biological systems and facilitating reversible chemical conversions to enable new energy storage technologies. In order to achieve these idealized goals, advancements must be made in the art of synthetic inorganic chemistry and accordingly, work in the Nava lab will focus at the interface of chemical synthesis and application in a sustained feedback loop. Key long-term objectives include the controlled investigation of a supporting ligand properties in the reduction of an atom for rational formation of materials and alloys, manipulation of said properties to control the biological-nanomaterials interface, and the interconversion of hydrides and hydrogen for next generation energy storage applications.


Honors & Awards

  • Alan Davison Fellowship (2014)
  • Lester Wolfe Fellowship (2013)
  • ODGE Diversity Fellowship (2012)
  • California Math and Science Teaching Initiative (2007-09)
  • UCR STEM Fellowship (2009)
  • MarcU* Trainee Fellowship (2008)
  • SURF Fellowship (2007)

Representative Publications

  • “Chemical Challenges that the Peroxide Dianion Presents to Rechargeable Lithium-Air Batteries” Nava, M.; Thorarinsdottir, A. E.; Lopez, N.; Cummins, C. C.; Nocera, D. G. Chem. Mater. 2022, 34, 3883 – 3892.
  • “Polypyrrole-Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Controlled Intracellular Cargo Delivery” Loh, D. M.; Nava, M.; Nocera, D. G. Nano Lett. 2021, 22, 366 – 371.
  • “How Radical are ‘Radical’ Photocatalysts? A Closed-Shell Meisenheimer Complex is Identified as a Super-reducing Photoreagent” Rieth, A. J.; Gonzalez, M. C.; Kudisch, B. J.; Nava, M.; Nocera, D. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 14352 – 14359.
  • “Lithium Superoxide Encapsulated in a Benzoquinone Anion Matrix” Nava, M.; Zhang, S.; Pastore, K. S.; Feng, X.; Lancaster, K. M.; Nocera, D. G.; Cummins, C. C. P. N. A. S. U.S.A. 2021, 118, e2019392118.
  • “Anthracene as a Launchpad for a Phosphinidene Sulfide and for Generation of a Phosphorus-Sulfur Material Having the Composition P2S, a Vulcanized Red Phosphorus That Is Yellow” Transue, W. J.; Nava, M.; Terban, M. W.; Yang, J.; Greenber, M. W.; Wu, G.; Foreman, E. S.; Mustoe, C. L.; Kennepohl, P.; Owen, J. S.; Billinge, S. J. L.; Kulik, H. J.; Cummins, C. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 431 – 440.
  • “Sulfur monoxide thermal release from an anthracene-based precursor, spectroscopic identification, and transfer reactivity” Joost, M.; Nava, M.; Transue, W. J.; Martin-Drumel, M.; McCarthy, M. C.; Patterson, D.; Cummins, C. C. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 2018, 115, 5866 – 5871.
  • “The Molecular Structure of gauche-1,3-Butadiene: Experimental Establishment of Non-planarity” Baraban, J. H.; Martin-Drumel, M.; Changala, B. P.; Eibenberger, S.; Nava, M.; Patterson, D.; Stanton, J. F.; Ellison, B. G.; McCarthy, M. C. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 1821 – 1825.
  • “An exploding N-isocyanide reagent formally composed of anthracene, dinitrogen and a carbon atom” Joost, M.; Nava, M.; Transue, W. J.; Cummins, C. C. Chem. Commun. 2017, 53, 11500 – 11503.
  • “Mechanism and Scope of Phosphinidene Transfer from Dibenzo-7-phosphanorbornadiene Compounds” Transue, W. J.; Velian, A.; Nava, M.; Garcia-Iriepa, C.; Temprado, M.; Cummins, C. C. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 10822 – 10831.
  • “On the incompatibility of lithium-O2 battery technology with CO2″ Zhang, S.;* Nava, M;* Chow, G.; Lopez, N.; Wu, G.; Britt, R. D.; Nocera, D. G.; Cummins, C. C. Chem. Sci. 2017, 8, 6117 – 6122. *Note: These authors contributed equally.
  • “Spontaneous and Selective Formation of HSNO, a Crucial Intermediate Linking H2S and Nitroso Chemistries” Nava, M.; Martin-Drumel, M.; Lopez, C. A.; Crabtree, K. N.; Womack, C. C.; Nguyen, L.; Thorwirth, S.; Cummins, C. C.; Stanton, J. F.; McCarthy, M. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 11441 – 11444.
  • “Crystalline Metaphosphate Acid Salts: Synthesis in Organic Media, Structures, Hydrogen-Bonding Capability, and Implication of Superacidity” Chakarawet, K.; Knopf, I.; Nava, M.; Jiang, Y.; Stauber, J. M.; Cummins, C. C. Inorg. Chem. 2016, 136, 11894 – 11897.
  • “A Molecular Precursor to Phosphaethyne and Its Application in Synthesis of the Aromatic 1,2,3,4-Phosphatriazolate Anion” Transue, W. J.; Velian, A.; Nava, M.; Martin-Drumel, M.; Womack, C. C.; Jiang, J.; Hou, G.; Wang, X.; McCarthy, M. C.; Field, R. W.; Cummins, C. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 6731 – 6734.
  • “Anion-Receptor Mediated Oxidation of Carbon Monoxide to Carbonate by Peroxide Dianion” Nava, M.; Lopez, N.; Müller, P.; Wu, G.; Nocera, D. G.; Cummins, C. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 14562 – 14565.
  • “Ultrafast Photoinduced Electron Transfer from Peroxide Dianion” Anderson, B. L.; Maher, A. G.; Nava, M.; Lopez, N.; Cummins, C. C.; Nocera, D. G. J. Phys. Chem. B. 2015, 119, 7422 – 7429.
  • “A Retro Diels-Alder Route to Diphosphorus Chemistry: Molecular Precursor Synthesis, Kinetics of P2 Transfer to 1,3-Dienes, and Detection of P2 by Molecular Beam Mass Spectrometry” Velian, A.; Nava, M.; Temprado, M.; Zhou, Y.; Field, R. W.; Cummins, C. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 13586 – 13589.
  • “Dihydrogen Tetrametaphosphate, [P4O12H2]2-:Synthesis, Solubilization in Organic Media, Preparation of its Anhydride [P4O11]2- and Acidic Methyl Ester, and Conversion to Tetrametaphosphate Metal Complexes via Protonolysis” Jiang, Y.; Chakarawet, K.; Kohut, A. L.; Nava, M.; Marino, N.; Cummins, C. C. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 11894 – 11897.
  • “The Strongest Brønsted Acid: Protonation of Alkanes by H(CHB11F11) at Room Temperature” Nava, M.; Stoyanova, I. V.; Cummings, S.; Stoyanov, E. S.; Reed, C. A. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 53, 1131 – 1134.
  • “Triethylsilyl Peruoro-Tetraphenylborate, [Et3Si+][F20-BPh4], a Widely Used Nonexistent Compound” Nava, M.; Reed, C. A. Organomet. 2011, 30, 4798 – 4800.
  • “High Yield C-Derivatization of Weakly Coordinating Carborane Anions” Nava, M.; Reed, C. A. Inorg. Chem. 2010, 49, 4726 – 4728.