Themes

Our research strategy is centred around seven research themes, which interlink with the structure of our four research groups.

These seven research themes define the focus for groups of researchers working in closely related fields, promoting targeted activity in key areas that are closely aligned with research council priorities.

Current research themes

Biological chemistry

This theme aims to probe and engineer the reactions and interactions of biological molecules, focusing on proteins and nucleic acids. The research impacts diverse areas from enhanced health and wellbeing for efficient, sustainable manufacture of chemicals.

Catalysis

Research covers a wide range of complementary disciplines, including surface science, electrochemistry, organometallic, organic and biological chemistry. Activities in heterogeneous catalysis are strongly driven by industrial applications in environmental control and chemical synthesis. A major emphasis is to exploit the emergent understanding of properties of supported gold and bi-metallic nanoparticles. Research in homogeneous catalysis is developing novel ligands to exploit first-row transition and main-group metals, particularly in asymmetric catalysis.

Energy

This theme is developing materials for use in energy applications including membranes for natural gas purification and carbon capture, the design and synthesis of materials for hydrogen storage, fuel cells and catalysts for the enhanced production of biofuels.

Imaging

This theme targets imaging probes for cellular microscopy developed from functionalised luminescent transition metal complexes, underpinned by photophysical characterisation. Fundamental aspects of magnetic resonance imaging agent design are being addressed through field-cycling relaxometric studies, including responsive (sensors) and bimodal agents. The chemistry of applicable radioisotopes is being developed in collaboration with the Wales Research and Diagnostic Positron Emission Tomography Imaging Centre, located in the University.

Materials

Research is focused on understanding the structure and dynamics of crystalline materials and soft matter, gaining fundamental insights on crystallization processes, developing applications of materials (including polymer-drug conjugates) and advancing new aspects of experimental techniques for studying materials (particularly EPR/ENDOR, powder XRD and X-ray birefringence).

Physical organic chemistry

Research is focused on developing a quantitative understanding of structures, mechanisms and interactions in organic chemistry, with applications in a range of areas such as catalysis, chemical biology, energy and healthcare.

Synthetic chemistry

This theme is developing novel methods and elucidating mechanisms to target the synthesis of natural products or bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical or agrochemical significance. Synthesis of heterocycles is a major activity, yielding new insights into novel electrophiles, cascade cyclizations and enantioselective functionalizations. Another focus is ligand design for novel s-, d- and f-block metal complexes for fundamental investigations and applications in catalysis, imaging, sensors and solar cell materials.

Computational and theoretical chemistry

Computational and theoretical chemistry also forms an overarching structure complimenting many of the above themes.

Cardiff Catalysis Institute

The Cardiff Catalysis Institute (CCI) is central to the catalysis theme, but also links to the biological chemistry, energy, physical organic chemistry and synthetic chemistry themes.

Integrating researchers from across the School and focused both on the fundamental understanding and the strategic application of catalysis, the CCI has contributed to making many processes (both in the academic research lab and in industrial large-scale reactors) faster, cleaner, economically more viable and more sustainable.

Growth

The CCI was established in 2008 under the directorship of Professor G J Hutchings FRS, with support of over £2.3M from the University. The University is currently investing a further £3.3M.

The strategic plan of the CCI includes close synergy with other academic centres in the south-west region and with the new UK Catalysis Hub, with the aim of broadening its research base to impact upon photocatalysis, sustainable fuel-to-energy transformations and biomimetic catalysis. Through this activity, the CCI has nurtured an alliance with Bristol (Chemistry) and Bath (Chemistry, Chemical Engineering) for the past 2 years.

Outputs

Outputs to date include a suite of short "pathfinder" research projects, which have initiated new collaborations between these centres. This alliance has been strengthened by the recently announced EPSRC CDT in Catalysis.