Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Dates: Sep 2011-Aug 2016
Summary: Nanoscience is a highly exciting area of science that promises possible revolutions in the way we tackle modern world challenges, including problems in climate change, energy generation and the medical sciences. Working on the nanoscale, typically 1-100nm, offers many opportunities due to changes in properties of some materials at that scale, or simply due to size compatibility of materials and targets at such small length scales.
The basis of our science relies upon the concept of self-assembly that exploits tailored objects, in our case molecules, that will spontaneously organise themselves into specific arrangements. Our science develops the concept of molecular organisation, the ability to arrange molecules into specific structures, and to develop the properties of the resulting molecular arrays. For example, we have developed the ability to prepare structures on surfaces that are a single molecule thick and yet contain pores capable of trapping and organising the arrangement of other molecules. Our study of molecular organisation has even allowed us to develop and understand the arrangement of rhombus shaped molecules mimicking ideas first developed by the Ancient Greeks but on the molecular scale.
Through the design, synthesis and understanding of the properties of molecules capable of self-assembly we seek to design nanoscale materials with specific properties designed at the molecular level.
Scheme: Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship
Dates: Sep 2010-Aug 2011
Summary: Our research lies at the heart of nanoscience, a highly exciting area of modern science that promises possible revolutions in the way we tackle modern world challenges, including problems in climate change, energy generation and the medical sciences. Working on the nanoscale, typically 1-100nm, offers many opportunities due to changes in properties of some materials at that scale, or simply due to size compatibility of materials and targets at such small length scales. We focus on the control of molecular organization, the ability to position molecules with respect to one another and to understand their resultant properties.
We are developing methods of making self-assembled materials that have the ability to trap molecules within nanoscale pores and cavities. Our studies focus on making materials, known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) that are 3D solids that have pores sufficiently small to trap molecules such as hydrogen gas, an exciting energy source and potential alternative to fossil fuels. Our ability to control relative molecular organization allows us to manipulate the properties of molecules and determine their environment. We have developed a new class of MOFs that incorporate photoactive components which absorb specific frequencies of light leading, in some instances, to chemical transformations. We have demonstrated that the nature of the photoactivated process can be modified by incorporation of the molecular species within the MOF environment. Indeed the environment provided by the MOF can be considered as “gas like” or even has been compared to the incorporation of reactive centres within enzymes.
We are also successfully using self-assembly to prepare 2D arrays on surfaces. Imaging at the molecular level allows understanding of how molecules behave in this environment. We have recently demonstrated that we can start to build structures away from the surface giving us an unprecedented level of control over molecular organization.