functional inorganic materials
Our research spans the areas of inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and materials science and focuses on the development of functional inorganic materials which exhibit novel electronic, optical and magnetic phenomena. Potential applications range from the capture of greenhouse gases to sensors, optoelectronics devices and photocatalysis. The 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.
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 based on mixed-valence metal clusters of Mo, W, Ru, Os and redox-active bridging ligands which exhibit redox-activity. Solid-state electrochemical and a novel in situ spectroelectrochemical technique developed in our laboratory (Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 3945-3947), will be employed to investigate the 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 molecular electronics devices. This project will involve collaborative work with The Laboratory for Sustainable Technology at USyd to support our initial steps towards the integration of redox-active frameworks into solid-state devices.
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 ASAP article). 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 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.
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 for use as CO2 capture and conversion materials. 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 (Dalton Trans., 2012, ASAP article; 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). Electro- and photo-catalytic processes for CO2 conversion into fuels will also be assessed, with a particular emphasis on gaining an understanding of the kinetics and mechanisms of the catalytic processes. The ultimate goal of our research the development of economically-viable materials which can be readily integrated into industrial platforms.
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 Professor Cameron Kepert) in partnership with CSIRO, CO2CRC, ANSTO, and five universities Australia-wide. This work is also part of an ongoing collaboration with Professor Jeff Long in the Centre for Gas Separations Relevant to Clean Energy Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
Read about our new technology for capturing carbon dioxide in collaboration with Professor Jeff Long and Tom McDonald at UC Berkeley, USA (patent pending) here.
Photoactive metal-organic frameworks
Recently, methodologies for the postsynthetic covalent functionalisation of metal-organic frameworks have opened up fascinating prospects for building complexity into the pores. This project will involve the synthesis of materials as “photoswitchable molecular sieves” in which light can be used to modulate the size and electrostatic properties of the pores. The structural and physical characteristics of the materials will be investigated using single crystal X-ray and powder diffraction, thermogravimetric and gas sorption analysis. Novel sorption techniques to probe the light-activated gas permeation properties will be employed in collaboration with CSIRO (Clayton).
For further information, please contact:
School of Chemistry
University of Sydney NSW 2006
Phone: +61 2 9351 3777