Our research focus is on the use of advanced functional materials for a range of different applications in the broad area of clean energy and the environment. Some specific details about current research projects are below.
Light-responsive metal organic framework materials
Our earlier publications from our collaboration with Professor Matthew Hill at CSIRO and Monash University have shown that it's possible to induce spontaneous carbon dioxide desorption from various materials by applying visible or UV light. This area has blossomed in recent years as multiple groups around the world followed on from this work and this is now a very active field of research.
Our particular focus is now to apply these recently developed materials to create functional devices, and in particular, responsive gas separation membranes. Some of this work has been recently published (see the figure below from our paper in Scientific Reports) and we have a lot of interesting work in the pipeline.
Chiral Separation using Metal Organic Frameworks and Membranes
The separation of chiral molecules in racemic mixtures is very challenging, since the different chiral forms of the molecule have the same molecular weight and usually the same thermal, solubility and other properties that are often exploited in conventional separation approaches. This project is particularly focussed on separating high-value chiral molecules that are important products or intermediaries in the fine chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Our first major report in this area was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and showed that we can tailor the enantioselectivity of MOF adsorbents using defect engineering approaches.
Fundamental studies of gas transport through metal organic framework materials
We are conducting challenging research to probe difficult questions about the transport of gas molecules through metal organic framework materials, and especially how this impacts on gas transport through composite membranes. This work requires the development of new research tools and approaches and we have found this both incredibly challenging, and completely exciting. From an experimental side, we will soon publish our first results in this area. From a computational side, we are working with Dr Ozgur Yazaydin from UCL, who is a leader in the simulation of single and mixed-gas transport through porous materials.
Water treatment membranes
In keeping with our core focus on advanced materials for environmental applications, we continue to work on the development of interesting membranes for water treatment applications. Recent publications from our group in this field include a comprehensive review paper on reverse osmosis membrane fouling (published in Science of the Total Environment) and a novel approach to preparing high ion-exchange capacity membranes for electrodialysis applications (see the Figure below, from our paper published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces).