The general field of research is the synthesis, chemistry and physics of carbon nanorubes and heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis.
1. Transition Metals in Catalysis
Heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis:
In a well-equipped laboratory including facilities for gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and analytical electron microscopy, we prepare new catalyst and study new catalytic reactions. In particular, we are interested in the conversion of methane to other useful organic chemicals. We are particularly interested in alkane metathesis and we expect to initiate a research program I this area in the near future. The work entails the synthesis of new highly reactive electron-rich transition metal compounds as catalysts precursors.
We are interested both in real catalysts and model systems. Our objectives are to understand the intimate mechanism of important catalytic reactions such as asymmetric synthesis, Ziegler-Natta catalysis and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis, and also to try to discover and understand new catalytic processes.
2. Studies in Carbon Nanotubes
In the recent past we have discovered how to open the ends of the fascinating nanotubules known as "buckytubes" and we found that these tubes can be filled with many materials including proteins, metals, metal oxides, semiconductors, and organic and inorganic molecules. More recently we have extended this work to the filling of single walled nanotubes. The filled systems have clear potential for fundamental study of the relationship between structure and physical properties but also for applications in electronics, in medical, and engineering science.
3. Techniques and Methodology
The above programmes will provide wide experience in synthesis, coupled with the advanced level use of physical methods such as transmission electron microscope, STM, AFM, EELS, ESCA, Raman spectroscopy, solid state NMR, and the techniques and the art of heterogeneous.
In order to cover the breadth of techniques required for the characterisation of filled single wall carbon nanotubes it has been sensible to enter into collaborations with several other research groups. In Oxford there are close collaborations with Dr Jeremy Sloan (Royal Society Research Fellow), Dr David Watkin (X-ray Diffraction Specialist) and Dr Angus Kirkland (Leverhulme Research Fellow). The present number of research personnel in the combined Groups is sixteen including 6 post-doctoral assistants, 7 graduates and 3 Part II students. This group has just been awarded a four year £1 million grant by the EPSRC to develop methods for the characterisation of filled single wall carbon nanotubes.
We collaborate with six other EU Universities in a Research training network which will be active for a further two years. Also, we have an active and on-going collaboration with the research groups of Professor Nark Welland at Cambridge. Professor Welland's group are expert in the techniques and science of nanomaterials.