Inorganic, Macromolecular, and Materials
Welcome to the Manners group!
Our research focuses on the development of new synthetic approaches involving ring-opening reactions, catalysis, and self-assembly and their applications in molecular chemistry, polymer and materials science, and nanoscience with a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on exploiting the interesting features of main group and transition elements.
We are very fortunate to attract very talented people from not only Britain, but also the rest of the world to our research group. Our international group typically operates at a level of 25 – 30 members and this includes mainly postdoctoral researchers and graduate students but also permanent staff, undergraduates, and visiting scientists. To find out more about our current group members, their backgrounds and their individual research projects, please see our Group Page. Click on Group Alumni to find out about the positions that former group members have taken up worldwide on leaving our group.
Our current research involves three synthetic approaches and each generates a range of exciting projects and new molecules and materials of fundamental and, in many cases, also of applied interest.
1) Ring-opening reactions. Inorganic elements are of particular interest to us as they represent some the most abundant elements on earth and the ability of scientists to explore, understand, and exploit their fundamental materials chemistry will have critical implications for the future. Due to the outstanding processability of polymers, we have a broad interest in the synthesis, properties, and applications of new classes of functional macromolecular materials containing inorganic elements. Many projects in our group aim at developing routes to new, well-defined classes of polymers containing main group and/or transition metal centers using ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of strained ring precursors. At a fundamental level we are interested in the structures, bonding, and strain in such species and the mechanisms for ROP. The presence of inorganic elements in a polymer main chain gives rise to intriguing properties of considerable scientific interest. The more applied side of our work involves the development of, for example, new charge transport materials, magnetic and catalytically-active ceramic materials, stimuli-responsive materials, sensors, and liquid crystalline materials.
2) Catalysis. Catalytic reactions that enable the formation of new bonds to carbon centers play a pervasive role in the state of the art synthesis of organic molecules and macromolecules. In contrast, the development of analogous processes as routes to main group compounds and materials has been much slower. We have been involved in a broad expansion of this field, especially in the area of dehydrogenation/dehydrocoupling processes that allow access to a wide range of catenated structures based on elements across the p-block. This has already impacted areas such as hydrogen storage and transfer, functional inorganic polymers, and ceramic thin films. Such catalytic pathways using main group substrates represent an increasingly attractive and convenient alternative to traditional routes such as salt metathesis and reductive coupling reactions.
3) Self-assembly. We are also very interested in the synthetic challenges associated with the creation of structures on the length scale much longer than that associated with molecules and macromolecules. We have found block copolymer (BCP) self-assembly and hierarchical self-assembly to be a fascinating route to make objects in the size regime of ca. 10 nm – 10 microns. Together with our collaborators we are currently investigating a range of potential applications of the resulting phase-separated thin films and core-shell nanostructures (micelles) as nanowires, nanotubes, self-assembled heterojunctions, and as magnetic dot precursors. Our work involves building blocks with metallopolymer and/or p-conjugated segmentsblock copolymers and hybrid materials with biopolymers such as proteins and DNA are also being explored.
The research in our group accommodates students and postdocs with interests and previous experience in all areas of chemistry and materials chemistry and provides students with a broad training in small molecule, polymer, and materials synthesis and characterization techniques. Another feature of our group is that many of our projects are interdisciplinary in nature. Thus, projects can involve both synthetic chemists, physical chemists, and also through collaboration, laser spectroscopists, polymer physicists, engineers, and govenment lab workers and industrial researchers. In addition to working individually, interaction with other scientists and working as part of an interdisciplinary team is a crucial feature of the training in our group. For more information and references on our current research interests, click on Current Projects
Selected General Reviews and Books Relevant to
Synthetic Metal Containing Polymers,
Putting Metals into Polymers
Science, 2001, 294,
Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Dehydrocoupling: A
Convenient Route to Bonds between Main-Group
Clark, T.J.; Lee, K.; Manners, I.
Chem. Eur. J., 2006, 12,
Block Copolymers with Functional Inorganic
Angew Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 2007,
Inorganic Rings And Polymers of the p-Block
Elements: From Fundamentals To Applications
Chivers, T. and Manners, I.
Royal Society of Chemistry, 2009.
Amine- and Phosphine-Borane Adducts: New
Interest in Old Molecules
Staubitz, A.; Robertson, A.P.M.; Sloan, M.E.;
Chem. Rev. 2010, 110, 4023.
Functional Soft Materials from Metallopolymers
and Metallosupramolecular Polymers
Whittell, G. R.; Hager, M. D.; Schubert, U. S.;
2011, 10, 176.
Current Research Projects :
and Applications of Reactive Molecules Based on
Main Group Elements
Rings, Chains and
Functional Polymers based on Main Group Elements
Polymers via the Ring-Opening Polymerization of
Supramolecular Materials from the Self-Assembly of
Metal-Containing Homopolymers and Block Copolymers