Functional Materials and Molecular Assemblies


Functional materials and molecular assemblies

We focus on the application of assembly-based approaches for the generation of new functional materials. A fundamental feature of many natural forms of matter is that they display highly organized structures. These materials are often generated by the self-assembly of smaller sub-units, where the chemistry and geometry of these constituents dictate how they interact and then assemble. In this way, nature can construct complex materials with remarkable properties that go far beyond those achievable with small molecules. 

Our research takes inspiration from these processes. We are investigating the cross-length-scale mechanisms that drive the assembly and formation of complex forms of matter from the molecular scale interactions to mesoscale structuring that together determine the material’s macroscopic properties. Harnessing this knowledge, we are then able to design and build novel structures/materials, with tailor-made properties, for wide-ranging applications including catalytic materials, drug therapies, electronic components, sensors, energy storage or batteries. 

Current work is divided across the following areas.

  • Nanostructured Materials
  • Crystallisation
  • Supramolecular Chemistry
  • Soft and Biological Matter
  • Materials Characterisation
  • Computational Materials Chemistry

Bragg Centre for Materials Research 

Many section members are also members of the University of Leeds’ cross-institutional materials research centre, The Bragg Centre. The Bragg Centre brings together multidisciplinary research expertise from across the campus under its six research themes: (i) analytical science; (ii) bionanotechnology; (iii) electronic and photonic materials; (iv) functional surfaces; (v) multiscale materials; (iv) soft matter. The Bragg Centre is a founding partner of the Henry Royce Institute, the UK’s centre for advanced materials research and innovation. Therefore, membership of Bragg enables wider access to state-of-the-art research facilities both in Leeds and across the UK and facilitates multidisciplinary collaborations to deliver high impact materials research. 

Research Group Members

  • Richard Ansell – molecular imprinting; liquid chromatography, organogels.
  • Stefan Auer – machine learning; data analysis; healthcare diagnostics; soft matter; biophysics
  • Paul Beales (Head of Section) – self-assembly; membranes and vesicles; soft matter
  • Andrew Burnett – terahertz, infrared and computational spectroscopy
  • Tom Chamberlain – nanomaterial and nanocomposite synthesis and characterisation
  • Sean Collins –  analytical electron microscopy of molecular materials
  • Nora De Leeuw – computational materials chemistry
  • Didi Derks – colloids; automated liquid handling
  • Jenny Eyley – pedagogy of materials chemistry
  • Malcolm Halcrow – crystal engineering of switchable metal complexes
  • Michaele Hardie – functional metallo-supramolecular cages and networks
  • Terry Kee – soft matter; hydrogels as artificial biological systems
  • Yi-Yeoun Kim – bio-inspired functional materials; crystallisation
  • Richard Mandle – liquid crystals and polymers; synthesis and simulation
  • Fiona Meldrum – crystallisation; biomineralization; bio-inspired crystallisation; structure-property relationships
  • Robert Menzel – inorganic nanomaterials; foams and aerogels; catalysis
  • Orde Munro – DFT simulations; synthesis and spectroscopy; coordination compounds
  • Andrew Nelson – phospholipid layers; electrochemistry; toxicity sensing
  • Chris Pask – coordination and organometallic chemistry; chemical crystallography
  • Briony Yorke – time-resolved crystallography; single crystal spectroscopy; x-ray source development; radiation damage
  • Dejian Zhou – nanoparticles; multivalent interactions; biophysical tools; surface chemistry

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch with a relevent staff member.