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Inorganic Chemistry

The School of Chemistry has developed a particular strength in Inorganic Chemistry, with a research group dedicated to this exciting area of study. As part of the Chemistry (PhD/MPhil) programme, students can conduct their research within this group.

Research groups within the Inorganic Chemistry section formulate, and subsequently develop the applications of, coordination complexes containing main group and transition metals. The metals and types of ligand are numerous, and hence the applications are diverse. 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.

The design of new ligands is central to the research carried out in all areas of Inorganic Chemistry. Ligands currently being developed include novel phosphines, particularly the important phosphine macrocycles and combined phosphine-carbene macrocycles, unique N-heterocyclic carbenes and related species, and the development of chiral ligands for use in asymmetric catalysis. This research is predominantly synthetic in nature involving multi-step organic and inorganic syntheses.

Groups are investigating new systems based upon novel ligands and/or functionalised coordination complexes for the development of chemosensors. Measurable responses are dictated by the nature of the probe and can therefore be monitored via modulated optical, luminescent, electrochemical or longitudinal proton relaxivity behaviour, depending on the targeted application.

Fundamental studies model and develop catalysts and catalytic reactions. The research involves experimental aspects, in which model catalyst systems are synthesised and studied spectroscopically; this work is often supported by computational studies in a synergistic combination of theory and experiment. The research involves close collaboration with colleagues in other research groups within the department.

Groups within the Inorganic research at Cardiff are interested in the application of metal complexes in biomedical imaging, ranging from radioimaging applications of complexes of radionuclides such as PET and SPECT, applications of paramagnetic species as MRI contrast agents to optical techniques and in particular fluorescence microscopy with transition metal complexes. Notable outputs from the groups include the developments of the 99mTc based heart imaging agent MyoviewTM and the development of the first rhenium bipyridyl cell imaging agents.

The detailed spectroscopic characterization of ligands and coordination complexes underpins all of the research undertaken within the Inorganic Chemistry group. In addition to the use of multinuclear NMR, IR and UV-vis. spectroscopies a range of more specialized advanced techniques are employed on a routine basis. For example, time-resolved luminescence measurements employing UV-vis-NIR detectors are employed to probe the excited states of a variety of d- and f-metal ion complexes, as well as novel organic chromophores. Such measurements are key to the exploitation of such complexes in applications such as sensors, confocal microscope cellular imaging and the design of new materials for photovoltaic devices.

Recent work has also focused on the design and synthesis of new prototypical complexes for use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Field-cycling relaxometry is a key spectroscopic tool, providing 1H nuclear magnetic resonance dispersion plots, from which key parameters describing the physical properties of the complexes can be obtained. Recent work has investigated the relaxivity properties of highly paramagnetic gadolinium species, including the modulation of relaxivity through binding events with biomolecules such as DNA.

Work towards increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic devices is also being undertaken within the Inorganic Chemistry section. In particular, new light-harvesting molecules based upon transition metal complexes are being investigated, as well as novel hybrid materials based upon functionalized polymeric thiophene compounds. The work involves a comprehensive assessment of the electronic, photophysical and redox properties of the species in question and an assessment of the materials within prototype photovoltaic devices.


Administrative contact(s)

Dr Ben Ward

Administrative contact

Available research specialisms include

  • Chemosensors
  • Catalysis
  • Imaging
  • Applied spectroscopy
  • Materials chemistry for photovoltaic devices.


Each  year the School of Chemistry welcomes applicants who have secured funding from  external sponsors, or who are self-funded.

We have an extensive list of projects that are available. Details for each project can be obtained by  contacting the member of academic staff directly.  Please state which project(s) you would like to be considered for on your application form.

In the first instance, you should submit a CV & Covering Letter to the project supervisor detailing which projects you would like to be considered for.

Formal applications should then be submitted via Cardiff University's Online Application Service. In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project.

In answer to the question ‘How do you plan to fund your studies?’, please specify the details and upload any documents providing the evidence (for example: letter of confirmation of scholarship).


You can search our studentships or find out more about funding.

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Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Chemistry programme.

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See the range of PhD studentships and projects currently available.

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