The Inorganic Chemistry section are involved in a diverse range of research areas, ranging from coordination chemistry, catalysis, imaging, sensor development, and the spectroscopic applications of metal complexes. Research in Inorganic Chemistry therefore often lies at the interface with other scientific disciplines, including other chemistry sub-disciplines, physics, materials chemistry, and medical research.
Synthesis: The design of new ligands and coordination complexes is central to the research carried out in the group, and often underpins studies into the applications of metal complexes, for example in the development of antibacterial silver complexes. Ligands currently being developed include novel phosphines, particularly phosphine macrocycles, N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), and chiral ligand systems. The study of their coordination chemistry is meticulous, employing a range of modern analytical techniques, including X-ray crystallography, multinuclear and multidimensional NMR, UV, VCD, and IR spectroscopies.
Homogeneous catalysis: In catalysis, we develop new and improved catalysts and study their catalytic reaction mechanisms. The research involves experimental aspects, in which model catalyst systems are synthesised and studied spectroscopically, as well as computational studies in a synergistic combination of theory and experiment. Current studies include the use of chiral calcium complexes as inexpensive and environmentally benign catalysts; the application of novel phosphine and mixed chiral phosphine/amine complexes, and expanded ring NHC complexes as a new generation of highly efficient catalysts. Recent work has also highlighted the impressive photooxidation capability of cyclometalated iridium complexes.
Applied spectroscopy, imaging and sensing: Metal complexes are applied to biological imaging, from biomedical radioimaging (PET and SPECT) with radionuclides, to MRI contrast agents, to fluorescence microscopy with complexes. Notable outputs from the groups include the 99mTc based heart imaging agent MyoviewTM, the development of transition metal cell imaging agents and responsive molecular probes for sensing, biological targets, and therapy. For many of these applications, a range of advanced techniques are deployed to underpin the design of such agents, including time-resolved UV-vis-NIR luminescence measurements and field-cycling relaxometry.