CPES Team Has Good Chemistry
New research group has designs on materials
BY ANDREW VOWLES
|Profs. William Tam, left, Adrian Schwan and Kathryn Preuss are members of a new synthetic chemistry group on campus. Photo by Martin Schwalbe|
From health care to computing, U of G synthetic chemists expect their pioneering research group will yield new ideas for making molecules and materials for a variety of uses.
Members hope to parlay current research in synthetic chemistry at Guelph into “the premier site” for finding new ways to make molecules and novel molecule-based materials, says Prof. Kathryn Preuss, Chemistry.
Formed this fall within the Department of Chemistry, the group is believed to be the most diverse of its kind at a Canadian university.
The Molecules and Materials Synthesis Group will see 10 faculty members collaborating to create new materials and investigate properties of those substances. In addition to Preuss, the group consists of Profs. France-Isabelle Auzanneau, Michael Denk, Abdelaziz Houmam, Richard Manderville, Mario Monteiro, Marcel Schlaf, Adrian Schwan, William Tam and Peter Tremaine.
Their research interests span several areas, including:
- making carbohydrate-based vaccines;
- creating precursors for molecular vapour deposition of metals used in making electronics;
- finding cheaper routes to make synthetic pharmaceuticals;
- designing catalysts to turn biodiesel byproducts into industrially useful chemical precursors; and
- making the first synthetic lung surfactants for therapeutic medical applications.
Common to all their projects is the design of molecular structures that may yield new and potentially useful material properties.
By studying fundamental properties of single molecules such as magnetism and conductivity, for example, Preuss hopes to learn new ways to design materials at the molecular level. These materials may combine unusual but made-to-order properties — such as magnetic, transparent and flexible all at once. Her studies of single-molecule magnets may lead to materials for use in quantum computers.
Group members plan to pool their research strengths to pursue funding opportunities and to share equipment and expertise. They also hope that a core of synthetic chemists will help attract students to the University.
“We want to make Guelph the premier institution in Canada for chemical synthesis,” says Preuss.