The University of Southampton

CHEM3040 Macrocyclic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• illustrate how the chemical and physical behaviour of metal compounds may be controlled by particular types of ligands in synthetic systems and at the active site in complex biological systems; • provide an overview of metals in biological systems including the structure and function of various important metalloenzymes, metal ion storage and transport, and metal compounds used in medicine.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to provide a sound basis for the macrocyclic effect in terms of both kinetic and thermodynamic considerations, and link this closely to the potential and actual applications of macrocyclic systems in a range of domains, including a detailed understanding of the key factors influencing the design of macrocyclic frameworks suitable for the selective extraction of particular metal ions (s-block, p-block and 1st row d-block).
  • Demonstrate detailed appreciation of the challenges and solutions associated with the successful preparation of macrocycles with a range of donor atom types (O, N, S, Se, P) and their complexes, as well as developing the necessary skills in analysing and interpreting spectroscopic and analytical data on these systems, so that previously unseen examples and/or reaction schemes may be correctly identified and rationalised.
  • Demontrate an appreciation of how and why macrocyclic ligands can support coordination of metal ions in unusual oxidation states, how to optimise these characteristics for particular metals, and their development towards electrocatalysis.
  • Describe in detail how metal ions are important in biological processes and why the coordination environment around the metal centre plays a crucial role in its function.
  • Describe how metals can be utilised in medical applications from both a therapeutic and diagnostic perspective.


The special properties of macrocyclic ligands are described together with issues surrounding their syntheses. The applications of macrocycles and their complexes in selective metal ion extraction, catalysis and in biological systems are highlighted, together with their particular ability to stabilise uncommon metal oxidation states. The role that metal ions play in biological systems will be discussed. With an emphasis on ion transport and storage, biological metal redox processes, the role metals play in enzymes and how metal compounds are utilised in medicine.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching: Lectures, workshops Learning: consolidation of lecture notes, with reading around the topics to develop further detail; tackling problem questions in workshops, etc.

Practical classes and workshops4
Practical classes and workshops2
Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Follow-up work54
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J. A. McCleverty and T. J. Meyer (2004). Phosphine and Arsine Macrocycles. Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry II. ,1 , pp. 475.

E.C. Constable (1999). The Coordination Chemistry of Macrocyclic Compounds. 

S. Faulkner and N. Long (2011). Radiopharmaceuticals for Imaging and Therapy. Dalton Trans.. ,40 , pp. 6067.

P.C. Wilkins and R.G. Wilkins (1997). Inorganic Chemistry in Biology. 

J. C. Dabrowiak (2009). Metals in Medicine. 

L.F. Lindoy, G.V. Meehan, I.M. Vasilescu, H.J. Kim, J.-E. Lee, S.S. Lee (2010). Transition and post-transition metal ion chemistry of dibenzo-substituted, mixed-donor macrocycles incorporating five donor atoms. Coord Chem. Rev.. ,254 , pp. 1713.

T. Johnstone, K. Suntharalingam, and S. J. Lippard (2016). The Next Generation of Platinum Drugs: Targeted Pt(II) Agents, Nanoparticle Delivery, and Pt(IV) Prodrugs. Chem. Rev.. ,116  , pp. 3436.

L.F. Lindoy (1989). The Chemistry of Macrocyclic Ligand Complexes. 

D. E. Fenton (1995). Biocoordination Chemistry. 

J. A. McCleverty and T. J. Meyer (2004). Thioether, Selenoether and Telluroether Macrocycles. Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry II. ,1 , pp. 399.

R. K. Zalups, D. J. Koropatnick (2010). Cellular and Molecular Biology of Metals. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 10%
Examination  (2 hours) 90%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 10%
Examination 90%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: CHEM3037 or CHEM6094.

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