Centre of Excellence on Molecular Materials and Functions
We aim to create a globally recognized Centre focusing on the synthesis and study of molecular materials, where the fundamental building blocks are molecules, rather than atoms. They hold considerable academic and technological promise as they offer tunable properties that are relevant for applications. In order to leverage the expertise of the participating groups in a synergistic fashion, we aim to initially specialize in two exciting and important family of molecular materials; those assembled from metallic clusters and those assembled from gas hydrate cages. However, as additional capabilities are established, we will also expand our activities into other kinds of molecular materials, including supramolecular polymers, energy harvesting assemblies, molecular metals and molecular magnets. Important strides have already been made in the study of molecular forms consisting of atomically precise metal clusters containing tens to hundreds of atoms; the participating groups have been among the leaders in this area. The challenge now is to fill in the ‘gap’ between molecules and bulk materials, by achieving clusters of hundreds of kilodaltons and eventually megadaltons of mass. We will synthesize such systems, using novel methods and approaches. By studying the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of these cluster-assembled solids, it is expected that we will achieve breakthrough results in reactivity, catalysis, electrical transport, magnetism, energy storage and dissipation. In gas hydrates, our principal effort will be to use the hydrate cages as new molecular containers in which cryogenic chemistry can occur. Elementary processes happening in hydrate cages will be examined with in-situ spectroscopy. These will have immense relevance to molecular evolution in space as well as utilization of hydrates for gas storage and CO2 sequestration. Alongside the experimental investigations, we will carry out theoretical studies that will shed light on the underlying phenomena and help optimize the properties of these molecular materials. In this way, a new understanding of materials and phenomena will be gained. To maximize technological relevance, industrial linkages will be strengthened for local and national development. The outstanding team of collaborators, partners and advisors that has been assembled will guarantee maximum international visibility and impact and further raise the profile of the Institute. Advanced facilities and resources will be created, and next generation leaders will be trained with greater national and international participation, placing the larger objectives of the IoE as paramount. Thus, this proposal promotes local excellence while partnering with the best in the world.