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Molecular Synthesis

Integrating the design, synthesis and characterisation of both organic and inorganic molecules. We specifically focus on the development and application of new and flexible chemical methodologies to synthesise a breadth of systems, and exploit the use of enabling chemical tools to deliver efficient and versatile processes.

The Molecular Synthesis research section is one of the largest in the School. Consisting of ten independently active research sections, we focus on the development of new methods, molecules and materials that span a broad range of applications with importance to modern society. Our activities diversify across the traditional inorganic and organic chemistry boundaries, often within a multidisciplinary context. The research is underpinned through collaboration with other research interest sections and scientific disciplines (including biology, pharmacy, medicine, engineering and physics), as well as direct links with numerous industry partners.


The grouping covers a wide range of activities that fall within the Molecular Synthesis remit, including work on both organic and inorganic systems. Fundamental and applied research in combination with advanced characterisation techniques has allowed a number of research themes to develop. Project areas in Molecular Synthesis arising from our interests:

Methodology for discovering new molecules:

  • Reagent development based on hypervalent iodine and selenium electrophiles.
  • New ligands for s-, d- and f-block metal ions.
  • Development of novel chiral reagents, including phosphines and N-heterocyclic carbenes.
  • Homogeneous catalysis using metal complexes, including alkaline earth metals and main group Lewis acids.
  • Frustrated Lewis pairs.
  • Exploring new frontiers in organocatalysis.
    Valorisation of biomass to fine and speciality chemicals.

Synthesis in the context of Biology and Medicine:

  • Labelled probes for use as genosensors in DNA binding.
  • Multimodal bioimaging agents.
  • Molecular diagnostics and sensors.
  • Paramagnetic metal nanoparticles for MRI.

Synthesis in the context of Pharmacy:

  • New organo-fluorine motifs.
  • Metallodrug therapeutics.
  • Antimicrobial metal complexes.

Synthesis in the context of Engineering:

  • Microreactors.
  • Continuous flow chemistry and other enabling technologies.

Synthesis in the context of Materials:

  • Fundamental development and understanding of surfactants as detection and decontamination media.
  • Micellar solutions for use as colloidal catalysts.

Find out more details of group members specific research interests by looking at their profiles under the people tab.

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Research that matters

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