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Department of Chemistry

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Prof J.P.S. Badyal FRS

Professor Jas Pal Badyal of our department has received the honour of a
Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). The fellowship of the Royal Society
includes around 80 Nobel Laureates. Jas Pal has been recognised for his
pioneering research on the functionalization of solid surfaces and
deposition of functional nanolayers. He has invented a wide range of novel
surfaces for technological and societal applications. These have been
underpinned by the investigation of fundamental mechanisms and scale-up.
Examples include: antibacterial, fog harvesting, catalysis, non-fouling,
optochiral switches, filtration, biochips, super-repellency, and
nano-actuation. For more details about Jas Pal's research, see:

(3 May 2016)

Durham Chemistry Department ‘Celebrating Excellence'

Members of the Chemistry Department played a leading role at the annual 2016 Durham University Celebrating Excellence Dinner, hosted by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, which was held in the Great Hall, University College. The photograph shows Members of the Chemistry Department at the Durham University 2016 Celebrating Excellence Dinner: left to right: Prof Jim Feast CBE FRS, Prof Andy Beeby, Prof Judith Howard CBE FRS, Prof Graham Sandford, Prof Dick Chambers FRS, Prof Jas Pal Badyal, Dr. Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro, Prof Mark Wilson, Prof Chris Greenwell (Earth Sciences/Chemistry).

(28 Apr 2016) » More about Durham Chemistry Department ‘Celebrating Excellence'

Prestigious Faraday Symposium held at Durham

Durham Chemistry successfully hosted the prestigious Faraday Awards Symposium on 20th April. Five award lectures were given by Prof Nico Sommerdijk (Soft Matter & Biophysical Chemistry Award), Philipp Kukura (Marlow Award), Flemming Hansen (Marlow Award), David Wales (Tilden Prize) and Lyndon Emsley (Bourke Award). Prizes were awarded by Prof Graham Hutchings and RSC Faraday Division Secretary, Marie Cote. The day was attended by more than 80 colleagues, families and friends from Durham, the North East and beyond. It was a fantastic celebration of Physical Chemistry, showcasing some of the most eminent leaders and emerging talent in the field. 


(21 Apr 2016)

Kerry Strong wins Apprentice Award

Kerry Strong, Apprentice Technician in Chemistry, has been selected as the winner of Durham University Apprentice of the Year Award in Academic Departments in 2015-16. This is a great achievement for Kerry and demonstrates both her capabilities and enthusiasm for her work. She was nominated by her Line Manager, Emma Smart and was selected from a group of other apprentices working within the University. 

(18 Apr 2016) » More about Kerry Strong wins Apprentice Award

Water molecules cooperate to break hydrogen bonds via quantum tunnelling

Quantum tunneling in the smallest water droplet

A collaboration between theoretical and experimental chemists, led by the Department of Chemistry, was able to observe and explain the hydrogen-bond breaking motions of water molecules in a cluster. Although at very low temperatures, the molecules do not have enough energy to overcome the potential barriers, they are able to tunnel through them. In this work, published in Science, it was shown that the cluster was able to simultaneously break two hydrogen bonds by moving cooperatively. The theoretical study was carried out by Dr Jeremy Richardson using novel methods developed in his research for studying the complex dynamics of quantum molecular systems. 

(21 Mar 2016) » More about Water molecules cooperate to break hydrogen bonds via quantum tunnelling

Musgrave Lecture by Prof Steve Ley CBE

On Wednesday May 18, we welcome Professor Steve Ley CBE FRS, (Cambridge University) to give the 2016 Musgrave Lecture. This biannual series of lectures began in 1986 , and previous Lecturers have included Jean-Marie Lehn and Rolf Huisgen. On this occasion, supporting lectures will also be given by Prof Paul Brennan (Oxford) and Dr Stuart Warriner (Leeds), and the lectures begin at 13.30 in CG 93. The title of the Lecture is: 'Challenges and Opportunities in Natural Product Synthesis'.

(11 May 2016)

Welcome to Dr Dominikus Heift

Dr Dominikus Heift joined the Chemistry Department this week as an EU-funded COFUND Junior Research fellow working alongside Dr Phil Dyer’s group.
Dominikus will be working in the area of organo-antimony and -bismuth chemistry developing systems for small molecule activation and for bio-medical applications.
He joins Durham having completed a post-doctoral stay with Prof. Bruno Chaudret (Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie des Nano-objets, Toulouse), working in the area of metal nanoparticle chemistry, and having studied for his PhD in developing building blocks for organophosphorus chemistry with Prof. Hansjörg Grützmacher (ETH, Zürich).

(5 May 2016)

Hannah Bolt and Aisha Bismillah receive awards

Congratulations to Aisha Bismillah (McGonigal Group) and Hannah Bolt (Cobb Group) who scooped 3 out of the 4 awards at the annual Faculty of Science Poster Competition.

(4 May 2016)

Rubber Breakdown Research in Chemistry World

A team of chemists led by Dr Ezat Khosravi have developed a remarkable new way to break down styrene butadiene rubber at room temperature and without mechanical input, by placing it in dichloromethane with a ruthenium-based Grubbs’ catalyst. The original article is published in Green Chemistry and highlighted in Chemistry World. 

‘In natural rubber you see the presence of double bonds,’ explains Khosravi. ‘We thought by implementing cross metathesis using a ruthenium initiator we would be able to break down the rubber network in the presence of a simple ester, but surprisingly the reaction worked with just the catalyst, which was very interesting.’ Khosravi's Durham colleague Dr Richard Thompson helped analyse why the reaction still works without the ester.

(1 Apr 2016)

Simon Beaumont with UK's first NAPXPS spectrum

Simon Beaumont carried out the first experiments at the Diamond Light Source's new Near Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy endstation, VERSOX on 16th February. The photograph below shows the team, also including researchers from Aston University and the beamline scientists, just after the first ever spectrum was recorded with this instrument - a UK first. 

(26 Feb 2016) » More about Simon Beaumont with UK's first NAPXPS spectrum

BSAC Grant to Develop Next Generation Antibiotics

The rising prevalence of antibiotic resistance has increased the need for research on novel antimicrobials to replace or complement current treatments for infectious diseases. The challenge lies in finding new molecules with novel modes of action. To tackle this challenge Dr Steven Cobb (Chemistry) and Dr Fionnuala Lundy (Centre for Infection and Immunity, Queens University Belfast) have been awarded a grant from the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC - 

(20 Jan 2016)