Jeremy Sanders developed innovative applications of NMR spectroscopy in organic and biological chemistry, and is known for his biomimetic porphyrin systems and his theory of pi–pi interactions. His early explorations of lanthanide shift reagents and NOE difference spectroscopy enhanced the power of NMR to solve organic chemical structure and conformation.
His most notable contribution to biological chemistry through NMR was to resolve many of the long-standing paradoxes between the known in situ enzymology and the apparently contradictory physical chemistry of isolated polyhydroxybutyrate storage granules in bacteria.
In the 1990s, he developed the concept of dynamic combinatorial chemistry as a new approach to the discovery of new structures that are capable of binding and catalysis. Using reversible reactions to connect a variety of building blocks, it is possible to use templates to amplify successful receptors. It is also possible to use self-templating, for example through donor–acceptor and hydrophobic effects in water, to generate otherwise inaccessible catenanes and molecular knots in water.
Recently he has been exploring the dependence of polymorph stability in nanocrystals on surface effects.
Former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge Emeritus Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge