Scheme: Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
Organisation: University of Southampton
Dates: Jan 2009-Dec 2014
Summary: The first aims to address the major challenges facing the world in the 21st Century due to the increasing demands for energy and concomitant need to reduce waste. Central to this is the discovery and development of new “green” recyclable catalysts that offer enhanced selectivity in important chemical reactions during the manufacture of chemical products such as medicines, agrochemicals and advanced materials. Catalysts are substances that work to accelerate chemical reactions but are not themselves consumed by the overall process. An excellent catalyst should allow a reaction to proceed with minimal energy input, deliver complete selectivity for the desired product, produce minimal waste and be easily recovered and recycled. Many traditional catalysts (homogeneous) are unselective giving both products and byproducts. At the centre of my research lies the idea of supporting individual catalyst molecules within the pores of structured silica’s, and using the restricted space around the “supported” (heterogeneous) catalyst molecule to reduce the ways in which reacting molecules can approach the catalyst. The effect of the pore could be viewed as a molecular shape sorter favouring the “selected” reaction pathway, improving selectivity and delivering the pure desired material, thereby reducing waste and energy to provide more economic and environmentally sustainable processes.
The second area explores hyper-polarised contrast agents for MRI. NMR is the technique underlying MRI which is used to detect abnormalities such as tumours. However NMR signals are inherently weak, applying hyperpolarisation techniques these signals can be up to 100,000 stronger but only last for a short amount of time, up to one minute. My work involves the design and synthesis of molecules labelled with stable isotopes such as carbon-13 with the objective of extending the lifetime of these enhanced signals leading to significantly brighter images.