functional inorganic materials

Our research spans the areas of inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and materials science and focuses on the development of functional inorganic complexes and materials which exhibit novel electronic, optical and magnetic phenomena. Applications of our work range from the capture of greenhouse gases to address critical environmental challenges, to sensors, optoelectronics devices and photocatalysis for carbon dioxide convĀ  ersion to fuels. A key aspect is gaining an understanding of the fundamental relationships between the structural features of the solution- and solid-state materials and their physical properties. See our latest publications to learn more about our research.

Project 1

Microporous conductors and “Radical MOFs”
The realisation of electronically conducting microporous materials is one of the most highly sought after (yet poorly developed) goals in the field (Aust. J. Chem., 2011, 64, 718-722). This project will involve the design and synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and purely organic porous coordination networks (PCNs) based on mixed-valence metal clusters of Mo, W, Ru, Os and/or redox-active ligands which exhibit stable radical states that can be generated using chemical, electrical or light as a stimulus. Solid-state electrochemistry and a novel in situ spectroelectrochemical technique developed in our laboratory (Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 3945-3947), will be employed to investigate the electronic and conductivity properties. The opportunities for advances at a fundamental and applied level are immense, with potential applications ranging from new battery materials, to lightweight sensors, and new materials for energy-efficient gas separations using electrical swing adsorption (Dalton Trans., 2013, 42, 9831-9839). This project will also make initial steps towards the integration of redox-active frameworks into solid-state devices.


Project 2

Multifunctional electronic and magnetic materials
The interplay between electron delocalisation and magnetism is ubiquitous in chemical and physical systems (e.g., solid-state superconductors, spintronics devices) and in metalloenzymes in nature; however experimental studies in which these phenomena coexist are extremely rare. This project involves the development of dinuclear metal complexes and metal-organic frameworks with coexisting magnetic and electronic functionalities (Nature Chem. 2010, 2, 362-368; Inorg. Chem., 2012, 51, 9192-9199). Solution- and solid-state spetroelectrochemical methods will be employed to examine the optical properties of the materials as a function of their redox states, while magnetic and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) techniques will be used to interrogate the spin properties. Fundamental insights will be gained into a host of novel phenomena which will be exploited to design multifunctional materials. This project will be conducted in collaboration with Professor Cameron Kepert.


Project 3

Carbon dioxide capture and catalytic conversion
The development of more efficient processes for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture is considered a key to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions implicated in global warming. This project will involve the synthesis of highly porous three-dimensional solids known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) for use in the postcombustion capture of CO2 from major point sources including coal-fired power plants. A plethora of organic and inorganic synthetic techniques will be employed to obtain novel framework materials that will be characterised using single crystal X-ray and powder diffraction, neutron diffraction (at the Bragg Institute, ANSTO) thermogravimetric and gas sorption analysis (Micro. Meso. Mater., 2013, 174, 74-80; Dalton Trans., 2012, 41, 11739-11744;Chem. Sci., 2011, 2, 2022-2028; Pure Appl. Chem., 2011, 83, 57-66; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2010, 49, 6058-6082; J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2009, 131, 8784-8786).

CO2 catalysis


A second project in this area involves the development of MOFs incorporating metalloligands for the photocatalytic conversion of CO2 into commodity chemicals. The crystalline nature of these porous 3-dimensional materials enables unprecedented insights into kinetics and mechanisms of the catalytic processes. The ultimate goal of our research is to develop economically-viable materials that can capture and convert CO2 in a concerted process to reduce emissions to the atmosphere and produce value-added products.

Watch the U-Tube video and the Vimeo video.

This project is part of a major collaborative grant “Solving the Energy Waste Roadblock” recently awarded by the Science & Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) and headed by the University of Sydney (directed by Prof. Cameron Kepert) in partnership with CSIRO, CO2CRC, ANSTO, and five universities Australia-wide.

Read about our new technology for capturing carbon dioxide Prof. Jeff Long in the Centre for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley, USA (patent pending).

All projects will allow students to gain skills across a range of techniques including synthesis (organic synthesis of ligands and inorganic synthesis of metal complexes and materials), structural characterisation (single crystal and powder X-ray diffraction, solution and solid state NMR, gas sorption analysis, thermogravimetric analysis, SEM) and physical characterisation (solution and solid state UV/Vis/NIR spectroscopy, electrochemistry, spectroelectrochemistry, EPR, 4-point probe conductivity measurements).

For further information, please contact:

Dr Deanna D'Alessandro

Room 457

School of Chemistry

Eastern Avenue

University of Sydney NSW 2006

Phone: +61 2 9351 3777