Mass spectrometry to underpin synthetic chemistry at Edinburgh

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry


Mass spectrometery is one of the main tools which a chemist can use to work out the structure and constitution of chemical species. Mass spectrometers are large, complex instruments and, like any complex instrument (such as a car or a TV) they cannot be expected to work indefinitely. In addition, manufacturers have made enormous improvements over the past 20 years in the ways in which mass spectrometers can be used. Here at the University of Edinburgh, we purchased our last 'work-horse' mass spectrometer exactly 20 years ago. A new mass spectrometer is needed to support the research work in Chemistry (see below). Mass spectrometers need to be operated and carefully looked after by highly trained technicians; we have also asked for part of the salary of a senior technician in this application.The University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry has a large number of independent research groups, all working on different aspects of new chemistry, so a wide range of science will be supported by this instrument. Most of this work will involve making things which have never been made before - sort of like making a new Lego construction -only on an unimaginably tiny scale. In one area called 'supramolecular chemistry' new molecular machines can be made which help to put themselves together ('self-assembly'). All of biology is controlled by chemical processes and in 'biological chemistry' we present projects which include therapeutic metal complexes, the folding of protein molecules, the chemistry of enzymes and biosynthesis (how organisms make chemicals) and biomodelling. Traditional aspects of organic and inorganic chemistry include catalysis of 'mirror image' reactions, synthesis of chemicals which occur in nature, synthesis of small 'building-block' organic molecules by new methods, new routes to unusual sugar (carbohydrate) species and design of new molecules (ligands) which can capture metal ions.In all these areas, a new mass spectrometer will allow research workers to monitor the chemistry of their reactions more efficiently and to identify and characterise the products to a standard required for publication in the best international journals.


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