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Dr Lauren Hatcher

Dr Lauren Hatcher

Royal Society University Research Fellow

School of Chemistry

+44 (0)29 2081 1783
Room 1.50, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


Dr Hatcher's research is focussed on the study of photo-active crystalline materials at the atomic scale. By understanding the relationship between a crystal's structure and its useful bulk properties, we can rationally design new materials with structures optimised to target a particular application or functionality.

Alongside an interest in a range of switchable molecular materials, Dr Hatcher is currently focussed on developing light-responsive ferroelectric materials for solar energy applications. This work is delivered in two parallel streams, with stream one focussed on materials design and stream two on dynamic X-ray diffraction method development. Stream one incorporates aspects of organic/organometallic synthetic chemistry, framework synthesis, analytical chemistry methods and crystallization techniques. Stream two combines a range of in-situ X-ray diffraction methods (particularly photocrystallography) with time-resolved experimentation, providing complete 3D structure information at timescales ranging from minutes down to picoseconds.

Selected publications:

Acc. Chem. Res., (2019), Photocrystallographic Studies on Transition Metal Nitrito Metastable Linkage Isomers: Manipulating the Metastable State, 52(4), 1079-1088.

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., (2018), Monitoring photo-induced population dynamics in metastable linkage isomer crystals: a crystallographic kinetic study of [Pd(Bu4dien)NO2]BPh4, 20(8), 5874-5886.

CrystEngComm, (2018), Understanding solid-state photoswitching in [Re(OMe2-bpy)(CO)31-NO2)] crystals via in-situ photocrystallography, 20, 5990-5997.

Nat. Commun., (2017), A rapidly-reversible absorptive and emissive vapochromic Pt(II) pincer-based chemical sensor, 8(1), 1-9.


Dr Lauren E. Hatcher is a Royal Society University Research Fellow (Mar 2020 – present) in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University. Prior to this she worked as a Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath (RA in Crystallisation Science for Manufacturing (CMAC), Jan 2018 – Jan 2020; RA in the Metastable Materials Research Group, Jan 2014 – Jan 2018). Lauren completed her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Bath in May 2014, under the supervision of Prof. Paul Raithby (Thesis title: Molecular Photocrystallography). She also completed her undergraduate studies at Bath in 2010 (1:1 BSc(Hons) in Natural Sciences with Industrial Placement) and as part of this course spent one year as an Industrial Placement Student in the Small Molecule Crystallography Group at GlaxoSmithKline Services, Harlow.

Honours and awards

  • Royal Society University Research Fellowship (2019)
  • CCDC Chemical Crystallography Prize for Younger Scientists, British Crystallographic Association (2017)
  • American Crystallographic Association travel grant, American Crystallographic Association meeting, Denver (2016)
  • Rigaku travel grant, British Crystallographic Association Spring Meeting, Lancaster (2015)
  • Journal of Chemical Crystallography poster prize, 63rd American Crystallographic Association meeting, Hawaii (2013)
  • Final Year Postgraduate Symposium Prize (Bolland Symposium), University of Bath Department of Chemistry (2013)
  • Oxford Cryosystems Low Temperature poster prize, 22nd International Union of Crystallography Congress, Madrid (2011)
  • Magaret Etter Student Lecturer Award, 61st American Crystallography Meeting, New Orleans (2011)
  • The Leadership Forum Award for Best Chemistry Student, European SET Student of the Year Awards (2010)
  • Faculty of Science Prize for Best Natural Sciences Student, University of Bath (2007, 2008, 2010)

Professional memberships

  • Member of the British Crystallographic Association
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Academic positions

  • Jan 2018 - Jan 2020: Research Associate in Crystallisation Science for Manufacturing (CMAC), EPSRC grant EP/I033459/1, Department of Chemistry, University of Bath
  • Jan 2014 - Jan 2018: Research Associate, Metastable Materials Group, EPSRC grant EP/K004956/1 Department of Chemistry, University of Bath
  • Feb 2016 - Oct 2016: Impact Acceleration Fellow (secondment), EPSRC grant EP/I01974X/1, Research Complex at Harwell, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot

Speaking engagements

  • British Crystallographic Association Spring Meeting (April 2020), invited speaker, University of Leeds, UK
  • I19 In-situ Training Workshop (March 2020), keynote, Beamline I19, Diamond Light Source, UK
  • British Crystallographic Association Spring Meeting (April 2018), invited speaker, University of Warwick, UK
  • 3rd ECM European Crystallography School (July 2017), invited lecturer, University of Warsaw, Poland
  • 66th Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association (July 2016), invited speaker, Denver, CO, USA

Committees and reviewing

  • BCA Chemical Crystallography Group, Vice-Chair (2018 - 2019)
  • BCA Chemical Crystallography Group, Ordinary member (2016 - 2018)
  • BCA Young Crystallographers Group, Secretary/Treasurer (2012 - 2014)












Research Interests:

I am a solid-state organometallic chemist with particular expertise in time-resolved single crystal X-ray diffraction, photocrystallography and crystal engineering of switchable molecular and framework materials.

The structure of a material holds the key to understanding its useful properties and this is why I am fascinated by solid-state chemistry. Single crystal X-ray diffraction provides highly accurate information on the structure of crystalline materials and is used to re-create a 3D image of the individual atoms and molecules. By combining these techniques with in-situ excitation (e.g. light, temperature, pressure and electric fields) and time-resolved methodologies, I aim to create “molecular movies” that show how switchable materials respond to excitation in 3D and in real time.

Research Projects:

Royal Society University Research Fellowship: March 2020 - current.

My current project, Dynamic X-ray Diffraction in Solar Energy Materials Design, develops new photo-active ferroelectric materials and determines the structural basis for their light-induced functionality using in-situ photocrystallographic techniques. Photo-active ferroelectric materials can directly convert sunlight into electricity and are highly desirable for solar energy applications. By developing cutting-edge dynamic X-ray diffraction methods, both at Cardiff and in collaboration with Diamond Light Source, we will watch how these materials interact with light in real-time. This improved understanding will then be taken back into the synthetic lab and used to design new crystals with improved photo-induced ferroelectric capabilities. This research has the exciting potential to deliver real global impact by revolutionising our understanding of solar energy conversion at the atomic scale, which can in-turn lead to the design of new and more efficient solar cells.