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Kevin Belfield - New Jersey Institute of Technology. Newark, NJ, US

Kevin Belfield Kevin Belfield

Dean, College of Science and Liberal Arts, Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science | New Jersey Institute of Technology


Principal Investigator of the Belfield Research Group, focusing on biophotonics, photophysics, and biological/environmental sensors






Externships: CSLA@NJIT's Dean Kevin Belfield Deep Vascular Imaging in Wounds by Two-Photon Fluorescence Microscopy




Dr. Kevin Belfield was appointed dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and professor of chemistry and environmental science in November 2014. Belfield received the B.S. in Chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1982 and, after spending one year at Bristol-Myers Pharmaceutical Co. in Syracuse (1982-83), the Ph.D. in Chemistry from Syracuse University in 1988 (under the mentorship of John E. Baldwin). He then worked as a senior chemist at Ciba-Geigy Corp. before performing postdoctoral research at SUNY College of Environmental and Forestry (with Israel Cabasso) and at Harvard University (with William von E. Doering). Subsequently, Belfield was a member of the faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy and Graduate Coordinator. While at the University of Detroit Mercy, Belfield was an AFOSR Summer Faculty Fellow in 1997 and 1998.

Prior to joining NJIT he served as Pegasus Professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Central Florida (1998-2014). In 2010, Belfield was inducted into the National Commission of Cooperative Education (NCCE) Co-op Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and became a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2019. Belfield has served as PI or co-PI on over 45 grants from federal, foundation, and corporate agencies. Kevin has over 250 publications, holds over a dozen US patents, and serves on several editorial advisory boards of scientific journals. Belfield is a pioneer in two-photon photochemistry and organic photonic materials. His research interests range from developing contrast agents for early cancer detection and new paradigms for photodynamic cancer therapy to ultrafast photophysics and 3D high density optical data storage.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Materials Science

Molecular engineering


Forensic Science



Accomplishments (9)

Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS)


Senior Member, Optical Society of America


Member of National Institutes of Health Cellular and Molecular Technologies (CMT) and Enabling Bioanalytical and Imaging Technologies (EBIT) study sections (2013-2019)


Senior Member of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers


Becton Dickinson Endowed Research Professor


University of Central Florida Excellence in Doctoral Student Mentoring Award , University of Central Florida


Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (professional)


University of Central Florida Pegasus Professor Award (professional)


Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Faculty Fellow


Education (2)

Syracuse University: PhD, Chemistry 1988

Rochester Institute of Technology: BS, Chemistry 1982

Media Appearances (1)

NJIT Starts New Jersey's First Bachelors Program in Forensic Science



“This program fills a critically important and unmet need in the state of New Jersey: an accredited Bachelor of Science forensic science program, the first of its kind in the state,” Kevin Belfield, dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, said in a prepared statement. “This STEM-focused program expands our already-impressive slate of high return-on-investment degree programs for our students and establishes NJIT as a regional resource for future forensic science professionals, as well as the professional community in the state and region.”...

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Research Focus (1)

Bioimaging and Biophotonics

Luminescent and electrochemical tags, multiphoton absorbing materials, two-photon photochemistry, ultrafast photophysics, nondestructive in vivo and ex vivo two-photon fluorescence imaging, and bioimaging probes, photodynamic therapy agents, nanostructured functional organic and polymeric materials, and two-photon based 3D high density optical data storage.

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Articles (6)

Electronic Nature of Neutral and Charged Two-Photon Absorbing Squaraines for Fluorescence Bioimaging Application

ACS Omega

Hao-Jung Chang, Mykhailo V. Bondar, Taihong Liu, Xinglei Liu, Sweety Singh, Kevin D. Belfield, Andrew Sheely, Artëm E. Masunov, David J. Hagan, and Eric W. Van Stryland

2019 The electronic properties of neutral 2,4-bis(4-bis(2-hydroxyethyl) amino-2-hydroxy-6-(2-(2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethoxy)ethoxy)phenyl)squaraine (1) and charged 2-((3-octadecylbenzothiazol-2(3H)-ylidene)methyl)-3-oxo-4-((3-(4-(pyridinium-1-yl)butyl)benzo-thiazol-3-ium-2-yl)methylene)cyclobut-1-enolate iodide (2) squaraine derivatives were analyzed based on comprehensive linear photophysical, photochemical, nonlinear optical studies (including two-photon absorption (2PA) and femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopy measurements), and quantum chemical calculations. The steady-state absorption, fluorescence, and excitation anisotropy spectra of these new squaraines revealed the values and mutual orientations of the main transition dipoles of 1 and 2 in solvents of different polarity, while their role in specific nonlinear optical properties was shown. The degenerate 2PA spectra of 1 and 2 exhibited similar shapes, with maximum cross sections of ∼300–400 GM, which were determined by the open aperture Z-scan method over a broad spectral range. The nature of the time-resolved excited-state absorption spectra of 1 and 2 was analyzed using a femtosecond transient absorption pump–probe technique and the characteristic relaxation times of 4–5 ps were revealed. Quantum chemical analyses of the electronic properties of 1 and 2 were performed using the ZINDO/S//DFT theory level, affording good agreement with experimental data. To demonstrate the potential of squaraines 1 and 2 as fluorescent probes for bioimaging, laser scanning fluorescence microscopy images of HeLa cells incubated with new squaraines were obtained.

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Alcohol promotes waste clearance in the CNS via brain vascular reactivity

Free Radical Biology and Medicine

Yiming Cheng, Xinglei Liu, Xiaotang Ma, Ricardo Garcia, Kevin Belfield, James Haorah


The efficient clearance of the interstitial waste metabolites is essential for the normal maintenance of brain homeostasis. The brain lacks the lymphatic clearance system. Thus, the drainage of waste metabolites in the brain is dependent on a slow flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) system. Glymphatic system claims the direct bulk flow transport of small size water-soluble waste metabolites into to the perivenous space by aquaporin-4 water channels of the astrocyte end-feet, but it did not address the diffusive clearance of large size waste metabolites. Here, we addressed the clearance mechanisms of large size waste metabolites from interstitial fluid to perivascular space as well as from CSF subarachnoid into perivascular space via the paravascular drainage. A low dose ethanol acting as a potent vasodilator promotes the dynamic clearance of waste metabolites through this perivascular-perivenous drainage path. We observed that ethanol-induced increased in vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cell reactivity regulated the enhanced clearance of metabolites. Here, activation of endothelial specific nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) by ethanol and generation of vasodilator nitric oxide mediates the interactive reactivity of endothelial-smooth muscle cells and subsequent diffusion of the CNS waste metabolites towards perivascular space. Detection of tracer dye (waste metabolite) in the perivenous space and in the blood samples further confirmed the improved clearance of waste metabolites through this unraveled interstitial-perivascular-perivenous clearance path. Our results suggest that alcohol intake at low-dose levels may promote clearance of neurological disease associated entangled proteins.

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Squaraine-hydrazine adducts for fast and colorimetric detection of aldehydes in aqueous media

Sensors and Actuators

Taihong Liu, Lvje Yang, Jing Zhang, Ke Liu, Liping Ding, Haonon Peng, Kevin D. Belfield, Yu Fang


Capitalizing on the nucleophilic addition of hydrazine toward the central cyclobutenyl core and affinity of aldehydes to hydrazine group, two water-soluble squaraine dyes (SQOH and SQPY) were synthesized as sensitive colorimetric and fluorescent chemosensors for aldehydes. The color change from blue to colorless and back to blue these sensors underwent was readily observed, even by the naked eyes. The response was fast (less than 1 s) and the detection limit for formaldehyde as an example was about 60 μM. In contrast to the previous nucleophilic attack to squaraines and the other amine references studied, this work underwent a whole ON-OFF-ON sensing circle based on the characteristics of hydrazine. Meanwhile, the different photophysical properties of the two squaraines related to their different structures were also demonstrated. Importantly, a possible sensing mechanism is proposed suggesting these types of dyes hold great potential in the area of rapid, sensitive, and convenient detection of aldehydes.

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Far‐Red‐ to NIR‐Emitting Adamantyl‐Functionalized Squaraine Dye: J‐Aggregation, Dissociation, and Cell Imaging

European Journal of Organic Chemistry

Taihong Liu Xinglei Liu Yuanwei Zhang Mykhailo V. Bondar Yu Fang Kevin D. Belfield


Squaraine dyes bearing adamantyl terminal groups have been synthesized and spectroscopically characterized. In aqueous solution, AM‐1′ tended to form J‐aggregates. Encapsulating AM‐1′ in β‐cyclodextrin, based on the host–guest interactions, dramatically dissociated the J‐aggregate, restoring fluorescence. Fluorescence microscopy imaging of HCT 116 cells incubated with the complex was accomplished.

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Systematic Molecular Engineering of a Series of Aniline-Based Squaraine Dyes and Their Structure-Related Properties

The Journal of Physical Chemistry

Taihong Liu, Xinglei Liu, Weina Wang, Zhipu Luo, Muqiong Liu, Shengli Zou, Cristina Sissa, Anna Painelli, Yuanwei Zhang, Mikas Vengris, Mykhailo V. Bondar, David J. Hagan, Eric W. Van Stryland, Yu Fang, and Kevin D. Belfield

2018 With the objective of developing new near-infrared fluorescent probes and understanding the effect molecular structure exerts on physical properties, a series of aniline-based squaraine dyes with different number and position of methoxy substituents adjacent to the squaraine core were synthesized and investigated. Using both computational and experimental methods, we found that the subtle changes of the number or position of the methoxy substituents influenced the twisting angle of the structure and led to significant variations in optical properties. Moreover, the methoxy substituent also affected aggregation behavior due to steric effects. The X-ray crystal structure of one of the key members of the series, SD-2a, clearly demonstrates the distortion between the four-membered squaraine core and the adjacent aniline ring due to methoxy substitution. Structure-related fast relaxation processes were investigated by femtosecond pump–probe experiments and transient absorption spectra. Quantum chemical calculations and essential state models were exploited to analyze the primary experimental results. The comprehensive investigation of structure-related properties of dihydroxylaniline-based squaraine dyes, with systematic substitution of OH by OCH3 functional groups, serves as a guide for the design of novel squaraine dyes for photonics applications.

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Mitochondria Penetrating Peptide-Conjugated TAMRA for Live-Cell Long-Term Tracking

Bioconjugate Chemistry

Tinghan Zhao, Xinglei Liu, Sweety Singh, Xiangshan Liu, Yuanwei Zhang, Junko Sawada, Masanobu Komatsu, and Kevin D. Belfield

2019 Mitochondria are essential targets for treatment of diseases with mitochondrial disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Mitochondria penetrating peptides (MPPs) are composed of cationic and hydrophobic amino acids that can target and permeate the mitochondrial membrane. Herein, a novel d-argine-phenylalanine-d-argine-phenylalanine-d-argine-phenylalanine-NH2 (rFrFrF) was tagged with a rhodamine-based fluorescent chromophore (TAMRA). This probe (TAMRA-rFrFrF) exhibited advantageous properties for long-term mitochondria tracking as demonstrated by fluorescence microscopy. Cell viability assays and oxygen consumption rates indicate low cytotoxicity and high biocompatibility of the new contrast agent. Colocalization studies suggest that TAMRA-rFrFrF is a promising candidate for continuous mitochondrial tracking for up to 3 days.

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