The School of Chemistry @ Pietermaritzburg has an active Inorganic Chemistry research group with several
focus areas. The group comprises 5 academic members of staff:
• Prof. John S. Field
• Prof. Orde Q. Munro
• Dr. Irvin Booysen
• Prof. Deo Jaganyi
• Dr. Matthew Ackerman
The Group has 5 well-equipped research laboratories:
Inorganic Synthesis Laboratory (fully equipped for anaerobic and anhydrous work on air- and water-sensitive
Inorganic Instrument Laboratory (2 x UV-visible spectrometers, 1 x FTIR spectrometer, 1 x BAS
electrochemical workstation). We are hoping to add variable temperature emission spectroscopy to the
equipment range this year.
Kinetics Laboratory (equipped with an Applied Photophysics stopped-flow spectrometer for studying fast
reactions and a CARY 300 spectrometer for measuring slower reaction rates).
Molecular Simulations Laboratory (two twin-processor workstations, two uni-processor workstations,
Gaussian 2003, GausView 2003, Spartan 2004, Hyperchem 6, Jaguar 4, Visual Basic 6, and a host of
molecular visualization packages).
X-Ray Crystallography Laboratory (Oxford Diffraction Xcalibur 2 CCD diffractometer fitted with an Oxford
Cryojet low temperature attachment as well as an Enraf-Nonius CAD4 serial diffractometer; we also have
a wide range of software, but mostly use WinGX, PLATON, and ORTEP for our research).
There are two projects in the group that focus on Pt(II) complexes. Prof. Field's work involves the synthesis and
characterization of novel Pt(II) terpyridyl derivatives with luminescent properties both in the solid state and in
solution. These compounds emit light at frequencies that depend on the temperature of the material and have
long-lived excited states, which makes them ideal for use in optical temperature and pressure sensing devices.
Prof. Field has a fruitful collaboration with Prof. Dave McMillin at Purdue University (Indiana, USA) and
several of his PhD students have visited Prof. McMillin's lab to carry out optical measurements on the
compounds made at Pietermaritzburg.
Prof. Jaganyi's main research interest is in the measurement of the rate of substitution of water and chloride ions
coordinated to Pt(II) in a range of interesting chelates, including terpyridyl derivatives and potential anti-cancer
compounds. Nucleophiles such as thiourea and its derivatives have proven especially useful for gauging the
effect that chelating ligands have on the substitution rate of water and Cl- at the Pt(II) centre of these
Prof. Munro's core research area involves the synthesis and characterization of novel porphyrins and their metal
complexes. Current projects include studies on Co(III), Al(III), Sn(IV), Rh(III), Mn(III), and Fe(III)
porphyrins. In addition to fundamental studies aimed at delineating the structure, bonding, and reactivity of
these compounds, applications in the area of catalysis and optical materials are being developed. Considerable
effort is devoted to the simulation of these systems using molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics, and DFT
calculations. New empirical correlations between experimental parameters such as metal ion chemical shifts
and DFT-calculated parameters such as nuclear electric field gradients have been established in these studies.
Schiff Base Complexes
There are two projects in the group that focus on the design and synthesis of novel Schiff base ligands for
chelating metal ions such as Ni(II), Pd(II), Co(III), and Cu(II). In addition to fundamental studies on the
structure and bonding of these systems, applications which include catalysis and molecular sensors are being
developed. This is primarily a collaborative project area for Dr. Perils and Prof. Munro.