Erasmus+ and Recent Outreach


It’s been a busy few weeks at the end of the teaching term, with Chris recently travelling to the University of Novi Sad, Serbia on an Erasmus+ teaching exchange to deliver a course on X-ray Structure Refinement. Chris was kindly hosted by Marko Rodić and members of the X-ray Diffraction and Coordination Chemistry Laboratories in the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Environmental Protection, and even managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing, including a stroll around Petrovaradin Fortress shown above.

Another recent outing was the Stoke on Trent Pint of Science event, where Chris spoke about MOFs, carbon capture and the surface area of cheese in the “From Atoms to Galaxies” themed night, along with a fascinating talk about exoplanet astronomy from Keele Astrophysics PhD student Nikki Miller. This event was part of the global Pint of Science festival which brings scientists to share and discuss their research with the public in the comfort of the local pub.


Another KRISP project complete

Congratulations to Laura Jenkins and Nma-Elietta Abdul-Obitayo, both 3rd-year undergraduates in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Keele, who recently completed an internship in the group funded by the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP). Their project was looking at the stability of housings for underwater LED lighting, for local company Sunset Lighting Systems. Well done to you both!


New Paper in J. Coord. Chem.

Just accepted in the Journal of Coordination Chemistry is a paper based on work done in the group at Keele by five visiting undergraduate students from Nanjing Xiaozhuang University. The study examines the effect of unsymmetric substitution at the pyrazole ring for a series of N-(2-pyridyl)pyrazole chelating ligands, by contrasting the solid-state structure and solution-state stabilities of their dichloridozinc(II) complexes. With a combination of synthetic chemistry, X-ray crystallography and spectroscopic techniques, the team did some great work in the lab and picked up a lot of new skills as part of their joint Keele/NXU Applied Chemistry degree. Big congratulations to Peng Chen, Wei Ge, Yangyang Lu, Zhenghui Wu and Jiachen Xu on their first paper!


PhD Position Available

A PhD position has become available in the group, details can be found by following this link. The project involves the synthesis of new hydrophobic linker molecules for water-resistent Metal-Organic Frameworks, in an attempt to address the ever-present problem of competitive water adsorption in crystalline microporous materials. Based at Keele University in Staffordshire, U.K., the successful candidate will enjoy a friendly and supportive research environment with great opportunities for training and career development, the possibility of travel for national and international meetings and collaborations, and the chance to kick-start a brand new research direction in the group. The post is funded for 3 years UK/EU fees, and stipend at Research Council rates.


(Updated March 2019 – this position has now closed)

Presentation at MASC2018 and Paper in Dalton Transactions

Chris recently gave an oral presentation at the RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry (MASC) meeting at Lancaster University. The presentation, entitled “Pyrrolo[3,2-b]pyrrole: A Versatile Fluorescent Scaffold for Metallosupramolecular Chemistry”, covered some of the recent results in our fluorescent MOF sensors project, and included some work done by Lara (MChem), Jack (3rd year undergraduate) and Helen (3rd year undergraduate).

Another recent collaborative output was the publication in Dalton Transactions of work by Hannah Dalton in the Gunnlaugsson group, who reported the synthesis of a new octanuclear metallo-macrocycle and its single-crystal-to-single-crystal guest exchange properties. Selective guest uptake and sieving in porous molecular crystals is an exciting area of study in supramolecular chemistry with particular applications in non-thermal separations of small molecules.


Graphical abstract: Exploring the reversible host–guest chemistry of a crystalline octanuclear Ag(i) metallosupramolecular macrocycle formed from a simple pyrazinylpyridine ligand

Recent Publications

Congratulations to June on her recent paper in CrystEngComm, entitled “Crystallographic studies of 2-picolyl substituted naphthalene diimide and bis-phthalimide ligands and their supramolecular coordination chemistry“. This work follows up on June’s MChem project, the results of which were published last year in the RSC journal Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers. In the latest paper, June investigated two diimide ligands with the underused 2-picolyl substituent, working towards a reliable N,O chelating motif for transition metal ions capable of influencing the photophysical properties of the aromatic core.

June Scheme 1


Some other collaborative papers published recently include this work in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, where Dermot Gillen from the Gunnlaugsson group studied the anion binding properties of some electron rich meta-phenylenebisurea hosts, which included the crystal structure of a very unusual triple-stranded helicate with a mixed-phosphate dimer encapsulated within. Also published recently was this work in Chemistry of Materials where the Turner, Batten and Chaffee groups at Monash University reported a hydrolytically stable and high-connectivity Cd(II) Metal-Organic Framework capable of repeated uptake cycles of carbon dioxide in humid conditions, with retention of single crystallinity.

Welcome New Students!


A very warm welcome to this year’s intake of 3rd year project students Barnaby, Helen, Jack and Zahid, and final-year MChem students Lara and Rohan. They are working on some really exciting projects ranging from fluorescent sensing to heterocyclic chemistry to biodegradable MOFs. Looking forward to a great year!