I am an Irishman currently living in Galway. By profession I am a researcher in the field of chemistry and I have wide interests in terms of travel, music, language, science and current affairs. I am part cynic, part idealist and love a good argument. || SIRG Research Fellow at NUI Galway || Co-host of "80 Days: an exploration podcast"
I had the pleasure of spending some time this month in Hong Kong University in the laboratory of Professor Vivian Wing-Wah Yam, a high-profile inorganic chemist. We had previously had conversations about some overlap in our research interests and, thanks to the generous support of Science Foundation Ireland’s “International Strategic Collaboration Programme for China“, I was able to visit HKU and begin collaborative work, investigating luminescent inorganic compounds. I am also very grateful for the support of my supervisor Professor Thorri Gunnlaugsson in encouraging this endeavour and Professor Yam and her group for their hospitality: I ate the best authentic Cantonese food for lunch all through my stay!
Dr Sammual Yu-Lut Leung was exceptionally generous with his time during
my visit, arranging an office for me and teaching me some new techniques in the laboratory. The work we carried out during my visit will form the foundations for an exciting project.
I was invited to give a research seminar to members of the Chemistry Department in HKU on Friday 11th December 2015 and was delighted to have the opportunity to share my work with researchers so far geographically from home and discuss it in detail afterwards.
Hong Kong is a beautiful city, a real melting pot of cultures, cuisine and indeed science. I immensely enjoyed my time there and believe this trip was the start of something fruitful.
After a lot of work, we finally got these results off my bench and into the literature. In our new article in “Chemistry – A European Journal” (Wiley), we present a convenient one-pot approach to synthesising chiral bis(triazolyl)pyridine ligands from enantiopure amines with the stereochemistry retained. This approach is broadly applicable.
The beautiful mirror-image crystal structures were obtained by Dr Miguel Martínez-Calvo (now in Santiago) and show interesting supramolecular hydrogen bonding interactions between the ligands which we will exploit in the future.
Dr Bob Peacock in Glasgow performed circularly polarised luminescence spectroscopic measurements on the coloured lanthanide(III) complexes of these ligands, illustrating their optically active nature.
In this article, we were able to show interesting behaviour which has only really been studied so far by researchers in Prof Thorri Gunnlaugsson’s lab (with two other examples published recently in projects led by Dr Oxana Kotova and Sam Bradberry, respectively). This behaviour was the notable changes in the circular dichroism (CD) spectra of these chiral molecules upon addition of lanthanide(III) ions. These spectral changes could be fit to determine binding constants of this self-assembly. These clear chiroptical spectra are in contrast to a dissapointing aspect of results we published earlier this year in Inorganic Chemistry (with remote amino acid substituents giving rise to weak CPL and CD) and shows that placing the chiral centre nearer to the metal ion binding location enhanced the effect on the chiroptical properties of such systems.
Recent research from the TG Group on the use of lanthanide luminescent soft materials as molecular logic gate mimics was presented to the public as part of the Discover Dublin ResearchNight in the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute on 25th September 2015. The work was described in an RTÉ News bulletin the day before and many people attended the laboratory where Sam Bradberry, Joe Byrne and Anna Aletti showed them how research chemists can create functional materials from commercially available building blocks, step by step. Illustrations by artist Sophie Longwill helped communicate the complex ideas to an audience of all ages. The presentation won a prize as a result of feedback from visitors.
The research was recently published in an article in Chemical Communications. It describes the use of lanthanide luminescent bundles based on the “Trinity Sliotar” and the btp motif as components in methacrylate-based soft materials and their…
The majority of the research group attended the Irish Universities Chemistry Research Colloquium in Maynooth University on 25-26 June, many presenting posters over the two days. Sam Bradberry gave a talk presenting his work on polymeric soft materials, including hydrogels and luminescent logic gate mimic systems. This prompted some discussion from the audience.
In the evening, Joe Byrne – a Maynooth alumnus – led the delegates on a walking tour of the historical campus, telling ghost stories he collected from staff during his undergraduate studies there. This alternative conference entertainment was enjoyed by those who attended.