We are interested in the excited-state properties of molecular materials in condensed phases, both from a fundamental viewpoint and for applications in light-emitting devices, solar-energy harvesting, and bio-imaging. Our work combines synthetic inorganic chemistry, optical spectroscopy, and theoretical calculations to gain a full understanding of the materials we study.
We have experience with a wide range of materials, including transition metal complexes (in particular those of rhodium and iridium), main-group compounds (particularly boron-based), lanthanide complexes, and purely organic chromophores, such as pyrene derivatives. We also have a strong interest in two-photon absorption spectroscopy, including the design of new materials with large two-photon absorption cross-sections, and in near-infrared emission.
Funded by a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 fellowship, we are investigating main-group phthalocyanines as singlet-oxygen photosensitizers for use in photodynamic therapy. Currently, we are focusing on boron subphthalocyanine derivatives, which are ring contracted analogues that show low aggregation and are efficient singlet-oxygen sensitizers. In particular, we are interested in ways to activate these compounds in situ, so that their cell-killing properties are switched on only in regions of diseased tissue. Coupled with this, we will exploit an optical response (e.g. a change in the emission spectrum or kinetics) in the presence of analytes associated with certain disease states that will form a combined 'theranostic' approach. This will allow us ultimately to irradiate for prolonged periods only those areas that require treatment and thus limit cell damage outside of the affected area. To this end, and in collaboration with Prof. Steve Faulkner, we are incorporating phthalocyanine chromophores into more complicated lanthanide-based molecular architectures to form stimuli-responsive theranostic agents.
Current collaborations include joint studies of supramolecular gel solvent dynamics by quasi-elastic neutron scattering as well as the synthesis of photo-active ruthenium complexes. We always welcome discussions concerning new collaborations, be that in the synthesis of luminescent inorganic compounds or in the optical spectroscopy and related theory of molecular materials.
Students interested in Part II or summer projects (end of 2nd/3rd year) are strongly encouraged to contact me by email to arrange an informal discussion. Projects can include a mix of synthetic inorganic chemistry, photophysical measurements, and theoretical calculations, giving you a broad introduction to this research area.