Inorganic chemistry at McMaster encompasses an wide range of topics, from the synthesis and characterization of high temperature superconductors to the synthesis of radio-labelled compounds suitable for medical imaging.
Research in Main Group Chemistry has traditionally been strong here and recent synthetic highlights include the first krypton-nitrogen bond as well as the unique pentagonal planar system XeF2. Such molecules provide critical experimental tests for simple but powerful structural theories exemplified by VSEPR, which was largely developed by our colleague Ronald J. Gillespie. We are particularly well-equipped to determine molecular structures by using X-ray crystallography as well as vibrational spectroscopy and NMR techniques both in solution and in the solid state.
Organometallic complexes are important not only as catalysts but also as models for the behaviour of small molecules adsorbed on metal surfaces. In this regard, the molecular dynamics of carbonyls and other ligands bonded to metal clusters are the subject of detailed experimental and theoretical studies. Moreover, the attachment of organometallic fragments to natural products such as steroids or terpenes provides facile routes to chiral molecules, some of which bind to specific receptor sites of significance to cancer chemotherapy.
Frequently, mechanistic inorganic chemistry requires the collection of kinetic data; typically, fast reactions are followed by stopped-flow techniques. The range of dynamic processes which can be studied by magnetic resonance methods nowadays is rather impressive and two dimensional NMR exchange spectroscopy is an active area of research in this Department.
Another strong field of chemical research at McMaster is that of Inorganic Materials. Under the umbrella of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (BIMR), faculty members from most of the science and engineering departments at McMaster collaborate in this general area. Our main interests as chemists lie in structure and bonding in inorganic solids; the kinetics and thermodynamics of chemical and structural solid-state transformations; the magnetic, electrical and optical properties of solids; and polymer preparation and chemical modification.