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Research interests

My research group is currently working in the following areas:

  1. Designer heterocycle-containing and diphenylamine-containing ligands (including macrocycles) and coordination complexes: design, synthesis, crystal structure determinations, redox and magnetic properties
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5. Attachment of magnetically interesting complexes to nanoparticles (in house collaboration with Dr Carla Meledandri)
  6. 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:

    and (ii) co-polymersiation of CO2 with epoxide (in collaboration with Prof Charlotte Williams, Imperial College London). See link to short movie: Sally Brooker Sci Media Savvy_13Feb2015

  7. Self-assembly of communicating arrays of transition metal ions – grids vs side-by-side complexes
  8. 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)
  9. Lanthanide cages as a new generation of luminescent ‘probes’, in collaboration with Drs Jean Fleming (Anatomy and Structural Biology) and Sally McCormick (Biochemistry).

More information about Research Interests

Team members can gain familiarity with a wide range of skills and techniques:

  1. Multistep organic synthesis of designer ligands, including heterocyclic chemistry (some in collaboration, in house, with Dr Bill Hawkins or Prof Dave Larsen)
  2. Macrocyclic chemistry (both direct and template synthesis, and transmetallations)
  3. Coordination chemistry (mostly of 3d TMs but also of heavier TMs and 4f)
  4. All new compounds are characterised by the usual standard methods (microanalysis, NMR, MS, IR etc)
  5. 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)
  6. 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
  7. Additional, specialist, characterisation as necessary, by one of our many international or local collaborators, further extends our breadth of experience.