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Prof. Michael Ward

Ward Photo

Prof. Michael D. Ward

Professor of Inorganic Chemistry & Head of Department

Qualifications: BA (Cantab) 1986; PhD (Cantab) 1989.



Research Summary

Prof. Ward’s research is in the general field of coordination chemistry: the structures, properties and applications of metal complexes with polydentate ligands.

Two areas of particular interest at the moment are:

(i) Self-assembly and host-guest chemistry of coordination cages. Coordination cages are hollow, pseudo-spherical metal complexes which self-assemble from metal ions and bridging ligands. They have elaborate and beautiful structures, and can bind small molecule ‘guests’ in the central cavity. This host-guest chemistry can result in useful properties and applications such as catalysed reactions of guests bound in the cavity; pH-dependent uptake and release of drug molecules; binding of gas molecules; and photoinduced electron transfer from a cage to a bound guest.

(ii) Photophysical properties of transition-metal (d-block) and lanthanide (f-block) complexes. Heterodinuclear (transition metal ion + lanthanide metal ion) systems have been of particular interest because of the ability of the transition metal ion excited state to sensitise lanthanide luminescence; and because the ability of such complexes to show luminescence from two centres simultaneously has applications in areas from analytical measurements to cell imaging.

Selected Recent Publications

(i) Papers on coordination cages and their host/guest chemistry

  • Highly selective CO2 vs. N2 adsorption in the cavity of a molecular coordination cage. J. S. Wright, A. J. Metherell, W. M. Cullen, J. R. Piper, R. Dawson and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 4398–4401.
  • A quantitative study of the effects of guest flexibility on binding inside a coordination cage host. C. G. P. Taylor, W. Cullen, O. M. Collier and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2017, 23, 206-213.
  • Highly efficient catalysis of the Kemp elimination in the cavity of a cubic coordination cage. W. Cullen, M. C. Misuraca, C. A. Hunter, N. H. Williams and M. D. Ward, Nature Chem., 2016, 8, 231–236.
  • Binding of chemical warfare agent simulants as guests in a coordination cage: contributions to binding and a fluorescence-based response. C. G. P. Taylor, J. R. Piper and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 6225–6228.
  • Imposing control on self-assembly: rational design and synthesis of a mixed-metal, mixed-ligand cage containing four types of component. A. J. Metherell and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2016, 7, 910–915.
  • Virtual screening for high-affinity guests for synthetic supramolecular receptors. W. Cullen, S.Turega, C. A Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 2790–2794.
  • pH-Controlled selection between one of three guests from a mixture using a coordination cage host. W. Cullen, K. A. Thomas, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 4025–4028.
  • pH-Dependent binding of guests in the cavity of a polyhedral coordination cage: reversible uptake and release of drug molecules. W. Cullen, S. Turega, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 625–631
  • Mapping the internal recognition surface of an octanuclear coordination cage using guest libraries. S. Turega, W. Cullen, M. Whitehead, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 8475–8483.

(ii) Papers on photophysical properties of metal complexes and complex assemblies.

  • Photoinduced energy- and electron-transfer from a photoactive coordination cage to bound guests. J. R. Piper, L. Cletheroe, C. G. P. Taylor, A. J. Metherell, J. A. Weinstein, I. V. Sazanovich and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 408–411.
  • Converting an intensity-based sensor to a ratiometric sensor: luminescence colour switching of an Ir/Eu dyad upon binding of a V-series chemical warfare agent simulant. A. J. Metherell, C. Curty, A. Zaugg, S. T. Saad, G. H. Dennison and M. D. Ward, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2016, 4, 9664–9668.
  • Heteronuclear Ir(III)-Ln(III) luminescent complexes: small-molecule probes for dual modal imaging and oxygen sensing. A. Jana, B. J. Crowston, J. R. Shewring, L. K. McKenzie, H. E. Bryant, S. W. Botchway, A. D. Ward, A. J. Amoroso, E. Baggaley and M. D. Ward, Inorg. Chem., 2016, 55, 5623-5633.
  • A new ligand skeleton for imaging applications with d-f complexes: combined lifetime imaging and high relaxivity in an Ir/Gd dyad. A. Jana, E. Baggaley, A. Amoroso and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 8833–8836.
  • Combined two-photon excitation and d→f energy-transfer in a water-soluble Ir(III)/Eu(III) dyad: two luminescence components from one molecule for cellular imaging. E. Baggaley, D.-K. Cao, D. Sykes, S. W. Botchway, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2014, 20, 8898–8903.