Non-classical paramagnetic susceptibility and anisotropy in lanthanide coordination complexes: a combined experimental and theoretical study

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry


Rare earth elements are used widely in society and industry in the 21st century. Even your mobile phone contains up to 9 different rare earth elements, harnessing their unique magnetic and optical properties. Advances in the application of these properties requires that we understand better the physicochemical origins of their behaviour. A key part of this process is to develop new theories that test our understanding, and guide us in the design of new chemical applications.

Of particular importance is the magnetic behaviour of the rare earth elements in their chemical compounds, and the ramifications of the directional dependence of the 'paramagnetism' that arises from unpaired electron density. This behaviour has important consequences not only in the design of new magnetic materials, but also in their use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) where they have been used since 1988 as contrast agents to assist in clinical diagnosis of disease. For example, paramagnetic lanthanide coordination complexes are being created as proton chemical shift magnetic resonance probes, in a radical change in imaging technology that directly relates to the importance of imaging technologies in healthcare.

This multidisciplinary project brings together three teams of scientists with complementary expertise in Durham, Manchester and Southampton to develop and test new theoretical and computational approaches that will promote a better understanding of the magnetic properties of new series of rare earth chemical compounds that are directly relevant to their application in magnetism and their scope for use in MRI.


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Description We have explained a long-standing observation on the extreme sensitivity to small changes in environment of the magnetic resonance response of a series of lanthanide complexes that are relevant to MRI applications. We showed that very small changes in geometric (molecular) structure can lead to gross changes in electronic structure that governs the magnetic resonance response, for specific types of ligands around the lanthanide ion. This work has been published in the J. Amer. Chem. Soc.
Exploitation Route This could be important information in the design of materials for e.g. MRI or other forms of imaging.
Sectors Healthcare