Sam, Anna and Dermot teach TY students about molecular logic

As part of the School of Chemisty’s annual Transition Year (TY) programme, Sam, Anna and Dermot gave an interactive demonstration on molecular logic to a group of sixty TY students. This is the second year in a row that the group has presented on smart materials and chemical computation, in an informative lecture that covers the life and legacy of mathematician George Boole, logic gates and the life-saving work of Prof A.P. de Silva in Belfast, and our own group’s work with lanthanides.

The students learned how logical functions operate in a series of interactive exercises, before testing out the gel-based logic gates themselves. The demonstration was originally developed by Sam and Joe as part of Discover Research Dublin 2015, and to mark the 200th birthday of Boole.

New Paper for June, Chris and Amy

Congratulations to June Lovitt, Chris Hawes and Amy Lynes on their new paper in Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers, entitled ‘Coordination chemistry of N-picolyl-1,8-naphthalimides: colourful low molecular weight metallo-gelators and unique chelation behaviours‘. June has spent the last six months as a research student in our lab, and has now returned to the University of Southampton to complete her studies. We all hope to see June again soon, but in the meantime we would like to wish her best of luck in all her future endeavours!


Transparant low molecular weight metallogels such as the one pictured (green) were formed from N-picolyl-1,8-naphthalimides

A new paper on monitoring the onset of bacterial infection using lanthanide luminescent probes within hydrogels accepted for publication in JACS


The europium-based luminescence is only quenched when urease enzymes break down urea in the solution

Many congratulations to Esther, Sam and Sandra who had their paper “Luminescent Lanthanide Cyclen-Based Enzymatic Assay Capable of Diagnosing the Onset of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections Both in Solution and within Polymeric Hydrogels” accepted in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The work focuses on using delayed 
luminescence Eu(III)-based pH-responsive probes to monitor the activity of urease, which hydrolyses urea in
 aqueous solution upon onset of bacterial infection.
 This system can be incorporated into soft polymeric materials such as hydrogels. The work was carried out in collaboration with Prof. Clive Williams of the School of Biochemistry and Immunology in TCD and Prof. Colin McCoy from the School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast.

Dr. Oxana Kotova wins poster prize at MASC 2015

Dr. Oxana Kotova with her award, "Porous Polmers", for her poster prize at MASC 2015

Dr. Oxana Kotova awarded the book, “Porous Polmers”, for winning a poster prize at MASC 2015

The Gunnlaugsson Group represented Trinity College Dublin at the  annual RSC Macrocyclic and Supramolecular Chemistry conference in Durham, UK on the 21st and 22nd of December 2015. Prof. Thorri Gunnlaugsson alongside 3 post-docs and 10 PhD students descended on the picturesque town in the north-east of England for two days of talks featuring extremely prominent international speakers from all aspects of supramolecular chemistry.

The meeting was attended by 130 people from a total of eight countries. Prof. Thorri Gunnlaugsson was among the 5 plenary speakers, but the meeting also included ten invited speakers, a poster session, and 6 flash talks. Dr. Oxana Kotova’s poster entitled “Healable Luminescent Self-Assembly Supramolecular Lanthanide (Eu/ Tb) Metallogels” (pictured) took home a poster prize for the group.

The famous Durham castle was a fitting setting for the conference dinner after which was held lively discussion and entertainment in the form of a Biopharma Casino Night. More success for the Thorri’s came in the form of PhD students Anna Aletti and Sandra Estalayo who were rewarded for their skill on the roulette tables with one magnum of Champagne each.

The conference was a great success and Prof. Jonathan W. Steed and all at Durham University must be congratulated for the careful organisation of the event.

Eoin McCarney’s first publication in Chemical Communications

Eoin McCarney, 2nd year PhD research chemist in the Gunnlaugsson group, had his first journal article published in Chemical Communications earlier this month. The work reported entails the formation and characterisation of a healable lanthanide luminescent metallogel from 2,6-bis(1,2,3-triazol-4-yl)pyridine (btp) ligands. Co-authors include Gunnlaugsson group member Dr. Joe Byrne who supervised the initial stages of the project, crystallographers Dr. Brendan Twamley and Dr. Miguel Martínez-Calvo, physicists Gavin Ryan and Prof. Matthias Möbius for the rheological studies of the soft matter gel and Prof. Thorri Gunnlaugsson. DOI: 10.1039/C5CC03139G

Ln(III) luminescent self-healing soft matter

Ln(III) luminescent self-healing soft matter

Supramolecular Gels with d-Block Metals – paper published in Inorganic Chemistry

OK-InorgChem2015-TOC abstract

TG group has recently published an article in ACS journal Inorganic Chemistry entitled “Cross-Linking the Fibers of Supramolecular Gels Formed from a Tripodal Terpyridine Derived Ligand with d‑Block Metal Ions”. This work is a result of collaboration between Trinity College Dublin (Ireland; Dr Oxana Kotova, Dr Cidália dos Santos, Prof John Boland), University of Cambridge (United Kingdom; Dr Ronan Daly) and University of Canterbury (New Zealand; Prof Paul Kruger) where we investigated the role of d-block metal ions in the formation of supramolecular gels.

The article can be found at the following link:

Irish Times highlights soft materials research from TG Group

IT-gels-May2015Journalist Dick Ahlstrom from the Irish Times highlighted the discovery of versatile lanthanide(III)-containing metallogels in a recent article:

The work involved mixing organic chemicals called ligands that naturally connect with the metals to form structures. He got one of his researchers, Dr Miguel Martínez-Calvo to make a simple new ligand and blended it with the metals.

“We thought we would get some kind of organic framework structure, but when we did the synthesis we got this gel, a new material that we didn’t expect,” says Dr Oxana Kotova, a research fellow in chemistry working with Gunnlaugsson. They described their findings in the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

It might have ended up as nothing more than gunk in the bottom of a test tube but the researchers had added two very useful metals in their gel, europium and terbium.

“We use these metals because they can connect to three or more ligands around them and they begin to organise themselves into shapes which would otherwise be impossible to form,” he says.

They self assemble to make a fibrous gel that has lots of useful properties. For example the gel readily “heals” itself after cuts or breaks.

“It is like jelly, you can push it around. We cut it with a scalpel and pulled it apart but then it grew back together and healed itself before our eyes.”

They worked with Trinity colleagues John Boland and Matthias Möbius who studied the gels at the nanotechnology scale of atoms to understand the structure.

Read the full article on the Irish Times website.