The group's research covers multiple projects which all fall within the overall theme of Supramolecular Chemistry. More detail will be added to these pages as projects develop and those interested are also advised to look at the Publications page.
Some particular themes of current research include:
Metal-organic cages made by self-assembly:
Through exploiting reversible metal-ligand coordination interactions, the assembly of matter can be controlled on the nanoscale, creating well-defined metal-organic cages or "nanoboxes", a few nm in size (10,000 times smaller than a human hair). This is now a well-established field, with techniques to construct cages in a variety of sizes and shapes (e.g., cubes, tetrahedra, prisms), and for a variety of different applications - many of these using the inner void or cavity of these nanoboxes to trap or bind another species of interest.
In our group we are particularly focussing on new applications or functions of these structures, including:
Stabilising a highly reactive chemical species or intermediate for further study.
Promoting supramolecular catalysis
Constructing metal-organic cages from unusual metal ions, or unusual ligands, so that these nanoboxes can be applied to tackle novel applications.
Investigating the interplay and interconversion between different structures or how systems of multiple structures can work together.
Developing novel metal-organic cages for use as non-invasive imaging agents as well as for drug delivery.
Our group has a broad interest in stimuli responsive materials, notably those that respond to a chemical stimulus, and the response leading to the structure changing shape, size, solubility, guest binding properties etc. We focus a lot of our efforts around a molecule called a tetrazine. Tetrazines are fascinating molecules. Although they are aromatic rings isostructural to benzene, they show several interesting and orthogonal reactivity patterns. Most famous is the 'Click' type inverse electron demand Diels-Alder reaction with strained alkenes and alkynes. However, they can also undergo interesting redox chemistry, can act a ligands to metals, and can undergo reversible nucleophilic aromatic substitution. We are looking how we can investigate the interplay of all these factors to design highly functional materials.
Our group is starting our adventures into interlocked molecule chemistry. These exciting structures underpin the basis of molecular machines, but we are in need of new and more efficient ways of constructing them, in addition to being able to access interlocked molecules that can be responsive to a range of stimuli.