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Professor Michael B Hursthouse 

Emeritus Professor

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Professor Michael B Hursthouse is Emeritus Professor within Chemistry at the University of Southampton.



A native of the (former) mining town of Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, Mike completed his secondary education at the Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School for Boys, and then travelled south to seek his fame and fortune in London. He obtained his BSc and PhD at Kings College (1959-64), University of London, and then spent the two years (1964-66) as a postdoctoral research fellow at Imperial College with Professor Donald Rogers, working on, amongst other things, the crystal structure determination of a derivative of streptomycin, a valuable drug against TB, and a program on X-ray Crystallography for a series on science subjects for the new BBC2 channel. In 1966 he was appointed to a new lectureship in Inorganic Chemistry at Queen Mary College, London, with the responsibility for establishing a chemical crystallography laboratory. He was promoted to Reader in Structural Chemistry in 1978 and to a Personal Chair in 1987. He moved to an Established Chair of Structural Chemistry at Cardiff in 1991 and to a similar position at Southampton University in 1998. In 1980 he founded the EPSRC National Service for X-ray Crystallography, which moved with him on each of his relocations, and which has received continuous funding from the Chemistry program of the EPSRC. The Service continues its operations in Southampton, under the expert direction of Simon Coles. Through the operation of the Service, Mike and his co-workers pioneered a number of innovations in crystallographic instrumentation and methods. The most significant of these has been the introduction into small molecule crystallography of the use of area detectors for data collection. His Chemical Crystallography research interests have included structure determination of metal complexes with bulky ligands, which involved some memorable collaborations with the late Professors Donald Bradley and Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson. At Southampton he integrated his growing interests in Structural Systematics into the developing area of e-Science to create an environment for High Throughput Chemical Crystallography, studying mainly functionalised organics and, especially, compounds of pharmaceutical relevance. Having formally retired on December 30, 2007, Mike was appointed Emeritus Professor. The award of a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship (2011-2014), and appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Chemistry Department at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, enabled him to continue working on the long list of overdue publications, an activity still in progress. 




Research interests


There is widespread current interest in the influences of intermolecular forces on the assembly of crystal structures, particularly in the areas of organic molecular and/or polyatomic ionic compounds. Whilst the influences of strong intermolecular bonding, such as carboxylate-carboxylate, has, to date, been particularly well studied, attention is also being paid to the involvement of weaker interactions, particularly the putative H-bridging of C-H groups, π-π stacking, halogen-halogen bonding models. We are investigating these using a variety of calculations, including assessment of the various components of “Van der Waals” bonding, following a knowledge-based approach. For such studies, we assemble large volumes of structural data on families of compounds, designed and synthesised to allow extensive and systematic analyses.

Current projects include the following studies: 

Polymorphism and Related Forms.

Here we are studying the structural features of polymorphs (different pure phase crystal structures adopted by a particular molecule) and related solid forms, such as molecular complexes (crystal structures adopted by a given molecule in partnership with one or more different molecules), solvates (essentially crystals formed by a molecule with included molecules of the crystallising solvent) and salts (binary or higher mixed systems in which proton transfer has occurred from or to a functional group on the target molecule to or from a partner molecule, to form acid/base pairs. All of these sets have a particular molecule at the focal point.


Structural Systematics of Compound Families.

Here we are obtaining, from a variety of sources, including donations from colleagues and chemical companies, and our own syntheses, samples of compounds with closely related and varying molecular structures, whose crystal structures enable a particularly detailed study of the influences on crystal structure assembly, of molecular shape, the small changes in substituent groups, and the involvement or otherwise of these groups in intermolecular interactions. Current studies involve analysis of structural relationships in families of sulphonamides, chalcones, carboxamides, pyrazoles, tartrate salts – various, with metal or organic cations, and acid-base salts and complexes.


Research Keywords

Chemical crystallography, organic solid forms, polymorphism, structural systematics, instrumentation, informatics


Research group

Functional Inorganic, Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry

Key Publications


Book Chapter

    Frey, J. G., Bradley, M., Essex, J., Hursthouse, M. B., Lewis, S. M., Luck, M. M., ... Welsh, A. (2003). Combinatorial chemistry and the Grid. In F. Berman, A. J. G. Hey, & G. C. Fox (Eds.), Grid computing: making the global infrastructure a reality. (pp. 945-962). (Wiley Series in Communications Networking and Distributed Systems). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd..



Professor Michael B Hursthouse
Chemistry University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number:30/1091

Telephone:(023) 8059 6722
Facsimile:(023) 8059 6723

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