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Functional Molecules & Materials

The Functional Molecules and Materials Research Grouping addresses many of the major challenges concerning the preparation, analysis and exploitation of functional molecules and materials across the chemical spectrum, including metal oxides and mixed anion materials, nanomaterials, nanocarbons, biomaterials, conjugated molecular materials and bio-conjugates. The current strategic research areas include:

  • Energy Generation, Storage and Conversion
  • Imaging, Sensing and Detection
  • Electronic and Photoresponsive Molecules and Materials
  • Bioactive, Biomimetic and Pharmaceutical Molecules and Materials
  • Characterisation and Methodology Development

The grouping uses a range of scientific skills from synthesis to physical and photo-physical properties measurements and computation and state of the art facilities and analytical techniques, such as single crystal X-ray, powder X-ray and neutron diffraction at both ambient and elevated pressures, solid-state NMR, spectroscopy and microscopy. A hallmark of much of this work is pushing these techniques to their limits both in terms of the experiments themselves and the information that can be derived from them, and in combining information from different sources to build up an overall understanding of how function relates to structure.

Research grouping members

Hover over the image to display the researchers name, click on the image to go to the staff page.

Recent publication highlights

  1. Molecular Machines Open Cell Membranes, V. García-López, F. Chen, L. G. Nilewski, G. Duret, A. Aliyan, A. B. Kolomeisky, J. T. Robinson, G. Wang, R. Pal and J. M. Tour, Nature, doi: doi:10.1038/nature23657, 2017.
  2. Rationalization of Anomalous Pseudocontact Shifts and Their Solvent Dependence in a Series of C-3-Symmetric Lanthanide Complexes, M. Vonci, K. Mason, E. A. Suturina, A. T. Frawley, S. G. Worswick, I. Kuprov, D. Parker, E. J. L. McInnes and N. F. Chilton, Journal of the American Chemical Society, doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b07094, 2017.
  3. Beyond Bleaney's Theory: Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Periodic Trends in Lanthanide Induced Chemical Shift, D. Parker, I. Kuprov, E. Suturina, K. Mason and C. Geraldes, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, doi:10.1002/anie.201706931, 2017.
  4. Chiral Transcription in Self-Assembled Tetrahedral Eu4L6 Chiral Cages Displaying Sizable Circularly Polarized Luminescence, C. Yeung, K. Yim, H. Wong, W. Lo, S. Yan, Y. Wong, D. Yufit, D. Smiles, L. McCormick, S. Teat, D. Shuh, W. Wong, R. Pal and G-L. Law, Nature Communications., DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01025-1
  5. Excited-State Aromatic Interactions in the Aggregation-Induced Emission of Molecular Rotors, J. Sturala, M. K. Etherington, A. N. Bismillah, H. F. Higginbotham, W. J. Trewby, J. A. Aguilar, E. H. C. Bromley, A. J. Avestro, A. P. Monkman and P. R. McGonigal, Journal of the American Chemical Society, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b08570 2017.
  6. Regio- and Conformational Isomerization Critical to Design of Efficient Thermally-activated Delayed Fluorescence Emitters, M. K. Etherington, F. Franchello, J. Gibson, T. Northey, J. Santos, J. S. Ward, H. F. Higginbotham, P. Data, A Kurowska, P. Lays Dos Santos, D. R. Graves, A. S. Batsanov, F. B. Dias, M. R. Bryce, T. J. Penfold and A. P. Monkman, Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms14987, 2017.
  1. Direct Observation of Oxide Ion Dynamics in La2Mo2O9 on the Nanosecond Timescale, J. R. Peet, C. A. Fuller, B. Frick, M. Zbiri, A. Piovano, M. R. Johnson and I. Radosavljevic Evans , Chemistry of Materials, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b05507 2017.
  1. New Apatite-Type Oxide Ion Conductor, Bi2La8[(GeO4)6]O3: Structure, Properties, and Direct Imaging of Low-Level Interstitial Oxygen Atoms Using Aberration-Corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy, M. L. Tate, D. A. Blom, M. Avdeev, H. E. A. Brand, G. J. McIntyre, T. Vogt and I. Radosavljevic Evans, Advanced Functional Materials, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201605625, 2017.
  2. An Exhaustive Symmetry Approach to Structure Determination: Phase Transitions in Bi2Sn2O7, J. W. Lewis, J. L. Payne, I. Radosavljevic Evans, H. T. Stokes, B. J. Campbell, and J. S. O. Evans, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138, 25, 8031, 2016.
  3. The Effects of Relaxation on Conversion Negative Electrode Materials for Li-Ion Batteries: A Study of TiSnSb Using 119Sn Mössbauer and 7Li MAS NMR Spectroscopies, K. E. Johnston, M. T. Sougrati, L. Stievano, A. Darwiche, N. Dupre, C. P. Grey, and L. Monconduit, Chemistry of Materials, 28, 11, 4032, 2016.

Visiting professors and fellows

Professor Tom Vogt, University of South Carolina, USA (Epiphany term 2018)

Tom Vogt is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Director of the NanoCenter, as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. He is spending the Epiphany term 2018 at Durham as an IAS Fellow, funded as part of the IAS annual theme Structure, and he is hosted in Chemistry by Ivana Evans.

Tom is a renowned expert in the field of inorganic functional materials, both naturally occuring and synthetic. He is particularly interested in elucidating their structural chemistry and structure property relationships by advanced diffraction- and electron microscopy-based methods.

Professor Ramesh T Subramaniam, University of Malaya, Malaysia (January-March 2018)

Ramesh T Subramaniam is a Professor in Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Malaysia. He is a COFUND Senior Research Fellow and will be spending the Epiphany term 2018 at Durham University. He is hosted in Chemistry Department by Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro.

Ramesh is a material scientist experienced in preparation, development and characterization of polymer and polymer electrolytes as a source of energy for use in various electrochemical devices. The novelty of his research was the successful invention of highly adhesive polymer membranes, environmentally friendly polymer electrolytes and techniques in the fabrication of green electrochemical devices. This collaboration is on the development of high-rate performing polymer electrolytes and cathode materials for safer, more sustainable energy storage

Professor Pat Woodward, Ohio State University, USA (academic year 2017-2018)

Pat Woodward is a Professor of Chemistry at Ohio State University, and he is spending his academic year 2017-2018 sabbatical at Durham Chemistry, hosted by John Evans and funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Pat's work is devoted to discovering new materials with technologically useful properties, with a particular flair for perovskites. Experimental techniques include solid state synthesis, crystallography and physical property measurements (optical, electrical, magnetic, dielectric and catalytic properties). Theoretical efforts focus on the application of existing theories to understand the relationship between elemental properties (electronegativity, ionic radius, electronic energy levels), crystal structure and properties.

Professor Chris Ling, University of Sydney, Australia (September-October 2017)

Chris Ling is a Professor and Associate Head of School (Research) at the School of Chemistry, University of Sydney. He visited Durham Chemistry in September-October 2017, on a joint Royal Society International Exchanges grant with Ivana Evans.

Chris's research focusses on ionic conductors for fuel cell and battery applications, frustrated and low-dimensional magnetism, magnetoresistors and multiferroics, as well as complex crystallography (diffuse scattering, modulated structures in up to six-dimensional superspace).

Professor Carlos Geraldes, University of Coimbra, Portugal (April-June 2017)

Carlos Geraldes is a Professor of Chemistry, Director of the Laboratory of Bioinorganic Chemistry and Biomedical NMR of the Centre of Neurosciences of the University of Coimbra. He visited Durham in April-June 2017, funded as a COFUND Senior Research Fellow, hosted by David Parker.

This collaboration was on the development of new theories of shift and relaxation in the paramagnetic systems.

Professor Branton Campbell, Brigham Young University, USA (academic year 2014-2015)

Branton Campbell a Professor of Physics at the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Brigham Young University. He spent his academic year 2014-2015 sabbatical at Durham as a Fulbright Scholar, hosted by John Evans.

Branton's research interests are around structure-property relationships in functional materials (high-Tc cuprates, colossal magnetoresistive manganites, relaxor ferroelectrics, open-framework materials). He’s particularly well known for his work on group theory and its relationship with structural changes in materials. He is a co-author of the widely used software suite for exploring different structures arising from phase transitions in functional materials.