Functional metallocages and metallosupramolecular assemblies

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


Transition metal complexes, in particular those containing iridium and ruthenium often exhibit interesting and varied luminescence properties. Metallo-cages are chemical architectures able to display host-guest chemistry. By combining these phenomena, self-assembled metallo-cages that have the potential to be utilised in numerous applications such as bioimaging, sensing and organic light emitting diodes can be accessed through the creation of complex systems which emit light at a tuneable wavelength.

The aim of this project is to create a range of self-assembled metallocages and/or other multi-nuclear complexes using derivatives of the host molecule cyclotriguaiacyclene (CTG). CTG a molecular host with a relatively rigid open pyramidal shape making it a useful scaffold for building cage assemblies. Here tetrazoles or triazoles groups will be appended to a CTG scaffold and complexed to late row transition metals to produce a variety of photoactive metallocages. By substituting the tetrazoles we can easily create an assortment of different cages which can exist in a cationic or anionic form. One aim will be the co-crystallisation of anionic and cationic cages/complexes to produce 'soft salts', allowing for tuning of luminescent behaviour. Other targets include heteronuclear complexes with CTG-scaffolds, and water solubilisation of metallocages in order to enhance their guest-binding properties. This has the potential for numerous downstream applications, such as solid state lighting, catalysis and sensor/imaging chemistry.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509681/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1799710 Studentship EP/N509681/1 01/10/2016 31/03/2020 Edward Britton
Description The original aim of this grant was to develop novel luminescent metal complexes. The synthesis of these complexes has proven challenging so it is too early to say what the final outcomes will be.

A side project that has yielded good results so far is the development of molecular machines which are capable of changing shape upon irradiation with light. These systems could find applications as molecular sensors or in chemical separation.
Exploitation Route Light responsive molecular machines could have potential applications in numerous fields. They could find uses as site-specific drug delivery systems, as hosts for molecular sensors of chemical separation and as nanoscale reaction vessels.
Sectors Chemicals

Description Diamond Light Source 
Organisation Diamond Light Source
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have grown single crystals of metal complexes which we then perform single crystal X-ray diffraction experiments at the synchrotron facility.
Collaborator Contribution Allowing us beam time at the synchrotron facility to carry out single crystal X-ray diffraction experiments that would be otherwise impossible.
Impact X-ray crystal structures of metal complexes that would have been otherwise impossible to collect.
Start Year 2017