The University of Southampton

Research Group: Functional Inorganic, Materials and Supramolecular Chemistry

Currently Active: 

The synthesis of new materials and functional molecules is vital to drive innovation and technology, and to improve the sustainability of our society through developments in energy and healthcare. In order to address these challenges, members of this group are involved in the synthesis of diverse classes of inorganic, solid-state and supramolecular materials and assemblies. Details of our research activities are grouped below according to the section designation(s) for convenience, but there is of course significant overlap and exchange between the three headings commensurate with the highly multidisciplinary nature of these areas.

Group Overview

Functional inorganic chemistry

We have a strong research activity in coordination chemistry, exploiting d- and f- block metals to generate new functional devices including, sensors (colorimetric and luminescent), switchable materials for nanoelectronics (spin crossover systems) and light emitting devices based on organic and lanthanide containing chromophores, and developing and exploring new coordination chemistry, involving polydentate and macrocyclic ligands containing donor atoms from Group 15 (N, P, As, Sb, Bi) and Group 16 (S, Se, Te) with metal ions from across the Periodic Table. We are also concerned with developing these complexes for the deposition of functional materials for electronic and thermoelectric applications and their incorporation into devices, and are developing metal fluoride complexes as new agents for medical imaging applications. We also have a research programme in solid state materials chemistry, focussing on mixed anion phases and their thin film fabrication by chemical vapour deposition, a technique widely employed in the electronics and glazing industries. Applications of the solid-state films in self-cleaning coatings and solar energy harvesting devices are under investigation.

Materials chemistry

Porous materials and their composites form a big part of our research portfolio, encompassing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), silica and aluminophosphates across the micro- and mesoporous regimes, respectively. We are developing strategies to process MOFs into application-specific configurations inspired by the interfacial interactions that govern biomineralisation processes and have prepared a wide-range of MOF-based composite materials with enhanced properties, including MOF-oxide composites for efficient chromatographic separation of xylene isomers, MOF-based capsules for pH triggered cargo release and size-selective biocatalysis and the use of biopolymers to influence crystal growth and orientation. We are also interested in the MOF-protein interface for materials design and therapeutic applications. The design of functional catalytic materials at the nanoscale is also a major area of research, wherein a detailed understanding of the nature of the active sites at the molecular level has led to the predictive design of single-site heterogeneous catalysts for multi-scale petrochemical and environmental technologies; with a multidisciplinary focus on photonics, renewable energy, sustainable nanocomposites and maritime engineering. Strategies to prepare hierarchically porous materials spanning multiple pore size regimes are also under development.

Supramolecular chemistry

Supramolecular chemistry is the third major area of research in this section, where control over the interactions between molecules and exploitation of molecular recognition processes has led to important discoveries and developments in sensing, catalysis and increased our understanding of fundamental biological transport processes. Research interests focus on the supramolecular chemistry of anionic species and in particular the molecular recognition, sensing and lipid bilayer transport of anions where transmembrane anion transporters have potential applications in the development of future treatments for cystic fibrosis and cancer. The mechanical bond as found in mechanically-linked architectures such as rotaxanes and catenanes is an unusual and under-explored structural motif for catalysis, sensing and materials applications, and we are developing cutting-edge synthetic techniques to produce these interesting and complex structures in high yield and selectivity in order to investigate and exploit their properties and potential in a wide range of areas. Current projects focus on the development of insulated molecular wires, switchable catalysts, and molecular machines for polymer synthesis.

All of the research described above is underpinned by a very strong background in structure determination and characterisation, where structure-property relationships based on a molecular level understanding of the materials and molecules under investigation has led to demonstrable improvements in performance and design. As part of this capability, we are building solid-state structural libraries analogous to organic compound libraries to investigate the link between molecular modifications and crystal structure, electron density distribution and physical properties; this work uses a combination of crystallographic, physical measurement, statistical and computational approaches.

Postgraduate opportunities

If you are interested in joining us either to study or to become part of our research team please select the relevant link below for further information.

Taught degrees (MSc Chemistry, MSc Instrumental Analytical Chemistry, MSc Chemistry by Research, MSc Electrochemistry)

Funded PhD Opportunities

PhD Opportunities. Most of the vacancies in chemistry are not individually listed. Instead, applicants are invited to list several members of chemistry whose research interests them, within one of our main research groups when applying

Current job vacancies at the University of Southampton


Key Publications

Research Staff

Related Projects

Related ProjectsStatusType
ADEPT - Advanced Devices by ElectroPlaTingActiveGrant
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Raja: Carbon dioxide storage and utilisationActive
Levason: Chemistry of Bi- and Polydentate Antimony and Bismuth LigandsActive
Levason: Coordination Chemistry of Early Transition Metals and LanthanidesActive
Levason: Coordination Chemistry of Main Group ElementsActive
Levason: Coordination chemistry of metal and non-metal fluoridesActive
Raja: Design Approach in Heterogeneous OrganocatalysisActive
Reid: Development and utilisation of sulfimide derivatised macrocyclic systemsActive
Reid: Electrodeposition of Semiconducting Chalcogenides from Unusual MediaActive
Raja: Engineering Active Sites for Enhancing Catalytic SynergyActive
Raja: Functionalised hierarchical architectures:Active
Evans: Heterogeneous Catalysis and Surface Organometallic ChemistryActive
Evans: High throughput in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy for materials characterisationActive
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Gale: Hydrogen bonding receptors for guest bindingActive
Raja: Hydrogen generation via photocatalytic oxidation of waterActive
Evans: In situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy for materials and catalyst characterisationActive
Raja: Ionic-liquid metal-oxide hybridsActive
Kitchen: Luminescent surface attached lanthanide complexes: towards new mono-layer sensing devices and smart surfacesActive
Reid: Main Group coordination chemistryActive
Evans: Mechanisms of homogeneous catalysis reactionsActive
Gale: Membrane Transporters for AnionsActive
Reid: Metal Fluoride Coordination ChemistryActive
Reid: Multidentate and macrocyclic organoselenium and -tellurium ligandsActive
Levason: Multidentate and Macrocyclic Selenoether and Telluroether ChemistryActive
Raja: Multifunctional and hierarchical architecturesActive
Raja: Multifunctional NanoparticlesActive
Raja: Multifunctional hierarchical architectures for biodiesel productionActive
Reid: Organo-antimony and -bismuth chemistryActive
Raja: Photocatalysis for Hydrogen generationActive
Raja: Renewable marine energy and maritime engineeringActive
Reid: s-Block complexes with soft donor ligandsActive
Reid: Sb- and Bi-Containing Polydentates & MacrocyclesActive
Reid: Selective Chemical Vapour Deposition of Chalcogenide SemiconductorsActive
Raja: Sustainable nanocompositesActive
Raja: Sustainable Catalysis for Renewable Energy ApplicationsActive
Reid: Thioether ligand chemistryActive
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