My research group is currently working in the following areas:
- Designer heterocycle-containing and diphenylamine-containing ligands (including macrocycles) and coordination complexes: design, synthesis, crystal structure determinations, redox and magnetic properties
- Non-toxic coordination complexes as catalysts for (a) generation of green hydrogen (C-zero fuel) from water and for (b) reduction of carbon dioxide to C-neutral fuels and commodity chemicals. Both are being studied under electrocatalytic (in collaboration with A/Prof Aaron Marshall, Canterbury) and photocatalytic (solar fuels, link to short movie: 2019 Solar fuels 13_Sally_Brooker_SciMediaSavvy) (in collaboration with Prof Garry Hanan) conditions.
- Spin crossover complexes (link to Radio NZ interview) – towards nanoswitches and memory devices. We measure magnetic data in house (and Mössbauer spectroscopy 4.6-300 K via in house collaboration with Dr Guy Jameson)
- Single Molecule Magnets (SMMs): one-pot self-assembly of soluble stable 3d-4f tetrametallic SMMs, by formation of a large organic Schiff-base macrocyclic ligands with differing coordination pockets, N2O2 for 3d and central O6 for 4f, and differing ring sizes (in collaboration with Prof Annie Powell, KIT; detailed magnetic studies with Dr Rodolphe Clerac, Bordeaux)
- Attachment of magnetically interesting complexes to nanoparticles (in house collaboration with Dr Carla Meledandri)
- Green polymerisation catalysts for (i) controlled polymerisation of rac-lactide (from biomass not oil building blocks) – see Hannah Davidson’s award winning 3 minute movie:
- Self-assembly of communicating arrays of transition metal ions – grids vs side-by-side complexes
- Functional models of the Mn4Ca cluster, the oxygen evolving complex (OEC), otherwise known as the water oxidation catalyst (WOC), of green plants (2H2O = O2 + 4H+ + 4e–)
- Lanthanide cages as a new generation of luminescent ‘probes’, in collaboration with Drs Jean Fleming (Anatomy and Structural Biology) and Sally McCormick (Biochemistry).
Team members can gain familiarity with a wide range of skills and techniques:
- Multistep organic synthesis of designer ligands, including heterocyclic chemistry (some in collaboration, in house, with Dr Bill Hawkins or Prof Dave Larsen)
- Macrocyclic chemistry (both direct and template synthesis, and transmetallations)
- Coordination chemistry (mostly of 3d TMs but also of heavier TMs and 4f)
- All new compounds are characterised by the usual standard methods (microanalysis, NMR, MS, IR etc)
- Crystallisation methods (see our 2015 CCR paper: DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2015.03.012) and X-ray structure determinations on the resulting single crystals (hands-on from data collection to solving and refining to publication standards)
- Wide range of physical characterisation methods, as appropriate for the particular designer complex: including by, in house, Versalab magnetometer, DSC, TGA, UV-Vis, CV/bulk electrolysis, Mössbauer, etc
- Additional, specialist, characterisation as necessary, by one of our many international or local collaborators, further extends our breadth of experience.