Inorganic & Materials Chemistry

The following staff are responsible for research in the Inorganic & Materials sections in the School of Chemistry.

Dr. Gillian Collins

Research Interests

Gillian is a researcher in the Materials Chemistry and Analysis Group. Her current research focuses on the synthesis of noble metal (Pd, Pt, Ru, Au, Ag,) nanoparticles, alloyed nanoparticles and oxide supported nanostructures for heterogeneous catalytic applications; surface and interface analysis (SEM, TEM, EDX, XPS) of noble metal nanowires and core-shell structures; understanding structure-property relationships in nanomaterials such as such as the influence of size, shape and crystal defects on catalytic activity of noble metal nanoparticles.

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Prof. Justin Holmes

Research Interests

Every aspect of basic nanoscale science, as well as the commercial production of nanotechnologies, is dependent upon the capacity of instruments and methodologies to fabricate, measure, sense and manipulate matter at the nanoscale. The Materials Chemistry and Analysis Group (MCAG) focus on developing chemical methods for synthesising and assembling nanostructured materials and their in-depth characterisation. In particular, we are interested in understanding nanoscale phenomenon in materials and determining structure-property relationships that enable the creation of functional devices for electronic, sensing, energy and catalytic applications.

Central to the group’s research is the combination of 'bottom-up' synthetic methods with 'top-down' integration and processing techniques.  Material sets of interest include semiconductor nanowires, porous oxide films, metal nanoparticles, chemically modified semiconductor surfaces, functional carbon materials, polymer thin films and others. The MCAG also has expertise in the synthesis, functionalisation and assembly of semiconductor nanowires towards useful devices and their detailed analysis by microscopy and spectroscopy techniques. For example, MCAG researchers have previously developed processes for manufacturing and integrating Si and Ge nanowires into nanoelectronic, photovoltaic and sensor devices.

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Prof. Paul Hurley

Research Interests

Paul leads a research team of ten PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, visiting students and Tyndall Research staff who perform basic research on high dielectric constant (high-k) thin films for applications in nanoelectronics. The current research work covers use of high-k oxides in conjunction with III-V and 2D semiconductor materials for future energy efficient logic devices and the use of high-k films in integrated capacitors. The groups are also exploring the use of MOS systems in energy applications as well as investigating the electrical properties of emerging phase change materials. Paul received an Intel Outstanding Researcher award for his work in high-k/III-V interface defect studies in 2012.

Paul is a member of the Technical Committee of the Insulating Films on Semiconductors (INFOS) conference and the International Workshop on Dielectrics in Microelectronics (WoDiM). In addition to research activities, he is a part time lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering at University College Cork. He has published over one hundred papers in the field of micro and nanoelectronics, and has given over 25 invited presentations and seminars in the high-k area from 2006 to 2014.

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Dr. Simon Lawrence


Research Interests

Simon's research interests are in understanding and controlling the organic solid state, encompassing crystal engineering, co-crystallization, polymorphism and nucleation itself. 

  • New synthons for crystal engineering Understanding the intermolecular interactions that occur between molecules is vital for the design of new materials and with specific purpose. Investigation into functional groups that have received little attention is of increasing importance as the pharmaceutical industry looks to new classes of compounds, which often display suitable activity but poor attributes for commercial success. The interplay between weak and strong intermolecular interactions, and between hydrogen and halogen bonding, is Increasingly of importance. Our research is particularly focussed on sulfur functional groups.
  • Co-crystallization is one strategy that can be important to overcome problems with drug molecules that display poor physicochemical properties. This involves crystallizing two or more molecules together to form a new crystalline entity. The molecules can both be neutral molecules, although recently interest has also focussed on the development and properties of ionic cocrystals.
  • Solution Structure and Nucleation are the processes from which crystalline materials form. Understanding these processes is a complex task, although recent developments in both experimental and computational techniques are allowing access to these phenomena.

Current projects are investigating the co-crystallization of nutraceuticals, the use of cocrystals for chiral resolution and the structure of the solution phase and nucleation.

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Dr. Orla Ni Dhubhghaill

Research Interests

Research in Orla Ni Dhubhghaill’s laboratory is in bioinorganic chemistry with particular emphasis on the design and synthesis of coordination complexes with potential biological activity.

Work in the group focusses on (i) design and synthesis of novel hemi-labile ligands of the types P,N,O-, P,N,S-, or P,N,N--; (ii) development of synthetic routes to Group 10 (Pd, Pt) and Group 11 (Cu, Ag) complexes of these and (iii) investigations of the reactivity of the complexes with biologically relevant ligands.

In addition, we have prepared a series of novel cyclometallated Group 10 complexes including platinum(IV) complexes.  Investigations on selected complexes indicate excellent DNA binding capacity as well as some cytotoxicity.  Work is ongoing on further establishing structure activity-relationships for these complexes.

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Prof. Colm O'Dwyer

Research Interests

Prof. O'Dwyer's research in the Applied Nanoscience Group researches the functional properties of material structures and their arrangements. A lot of the work involves the intriguing characteristics of materials chemistry and physics and how fundamental properties can add function. His group study fundamental optical, electrical, structural, electrochemical, and chemical properties of a wide range of semiconducting, inorganic and organic materials and structures to find and understand new knowledge and determine their potential for application ranging from electronics and photonics, to energy storage and conversion.

Their research includes advances in the growth and device-inspired investigations of metal oxides and semiconductors for electronics and photonics, including transparent conducting materials, thin film transistors, and light-matter interactions including plasmonic coupling effects, antireflection, enhanced transmission etc. from a range of nanoscale materials on optoelectronic devices.

They have also extensive experience in charge storage research including Li-ion and Li-O2 batteries and processes that affect their operation, and research that includes semiconductor (photo)electrochemistry, and  photonic crystals and their assembly for energy storage. On the ‘dry’ side, our research interests extend to charge transport phenomena in semiconducting, oxide and related materials, porous III-N and III-V semiconductors, electro-optic thin films and devices, nanoscale thermoelectrics using 2D crystalline materials and nanoscale silicon, with a strong background in electron microscopy and spectroscopy to probe materials and properties.

The research focuses on fundamental investigations that are applicable to materials, devices, properties, and use interesting phenomena for function and analysis.  They do this research in the School of Chemistry, and in collaboration with a wide range of scientists and industries in Ireland, throughout Europe and further afield.

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Dr. David Otway


Research Interests

Dr. Otway's principal teaching and research interests are in Organometallic Chemistry, Main Group & Lanthanide Chemistry and Inorganic Materials Chemistry. He is part of a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded (€4.2 million) Strategic Research Cluster (SRC) which is led by Prof. Martyn Pemble at the Tyndall National Institute - this is called FORME - Functional Oxide and Related Materials for Electronics.

Current research is directed towards the following topics:

  • Organometallic Chemistry of the Main Group and Lanthanide metals with especially (but not exclusively) pnictide or chalcogenide ligands and MOCVD (Metal Organic Chemical Vapour Deposition) of thin films of materials.
  • Metal oxide and mixed metal oxide materials for use in microelectronics
  • Deposition and characterization of nanomaterials in mesoporous silicon structures.
  • Novel nano-composite, high-frequency, magnetic materials for future microprocessor power delivery.

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Prof. Martyn Pemble

Research Interests

Martyn Pemble's group studies the areas of advanced chemical vapour deposition (CVD) systems and atomic layer deposition (ALD) systems, including surface catalysed CVD,  high-k dielectrics for advanced CMOS applications including III-V based MOSFETS, high performance capacitors and MIM-based devices, novel photochemically-activated water splitting devices, copper ALD and the ALD of copper diffusion barriers, the growth of novel oxides and doped oxides for smart window applications and other applications requiring  transparent conducting materials such as solar cells and displays.

In addition the group studies novel anti-microbial, self-cleaning surfaces for a wide range of applications, together with complex oxides that possess ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties, which may find application in next generation memory devices as well as novel sensors and actuators.

Most recently the group has begun to make notable progress in terms of extending the advanced growth methodologies towards commercially viable technologies that can be applied under atmospheric pressure or near atmospheric pressure ALD processes, suitable for in-line, continuous or roll-to-roll application. The group is also very well-known for its work on the growth and characterisation of synthetic photonic crystals based upon opaline systems and the assembly of photonic crystals using the Langmuir-Blodgett method. Latest developments in this area also align with the concept of extending the assembly methods towards commercially viable, roll-to-roll deposition systems.

The group colalborates extensively with researchers in the USA, Brazil, Japan and across europe. Facilities include the most comprehensive suite of atomic layer deposition systems on the island of Ireland, together with several chemical vapour deposition systems, 2 Langmuir-Blodgett troughs and a wide range of characterisation facilities.

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Dr. Davide Tiana


Research Interests

Davide is leading the Cork Computational Chemistry and Programming section based at the School of Chemistry. Their research exploits high-performance computers to simulate and solve chemical problems. This research spreads from fundamental chemistry (e.g. developing of new theories for better describing chemical interactions), to pure applications (e.g. design of new compounds). His group are particularly focused on these sub-fields of chemistry:

  • Chemical Boding and organometallics: Rationalising and modelling of chemical interactions in organometallic compounds.
  • Catalysis and photo-catalysis: Studying of catalytic cycles and reaction mechanisms of known and new chemicalreactions.
  • Drug-Design and Pharma: Developing of in-silico models for the design of new drugs and for studying pharmacokinetic processes.
  • Materials Chemistry: Engineering of hybrid materials for lighting and conductivity.

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School of Chemistry

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