RESEARCH

The Inkpen lab works at the intersection of chemistry and physics to elaborate, modulate and control charge transport processes through molecular systems across different length scales. Such processes are fundamental in Nature and integral to many technologies both ubiquitous and prospective. We use experimental tools to study molecular conductance in an analytical context, seeking a deeper understanding of structure-electronic property relationships in extended materials such as porous crystalline 2D and 3D polymers. Our bottom-up approach to materials redesign pushes the limits of molecular engineering, combining chemical synthesis in solution and on surfaces with nanoscale electrochemical, surface spectroscopic, and scanning probe microscope-based characterization methods. We aim to develop principles for the rational synthesis of new electronic materials that address urgent societal challenges by driving innovation in areas such as chemical sensing and energy storage.

inkpen-usc-research-overview.png

Researchers in the group can expect to gain extensive experience with both preparative chemistry (making molecules) and physical characterisation (measuring molecular properties) methods. We design and synthesize new organometallic, coordination, and organic compounds using Schlenk line, glove box, microwave, flash chromatography, NMR, UV-vis, IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and single-crystal X-ray diffraction techniques. We use potentiostats and scanning probe microscopes (both commercial and custom-built) to study the electrochemical and conductance properties of these materials in solution, on surfaces and in the solid state down to the single-molecule level.

Exploring the fundamentals of charge transport through individual redox-active molecules.

Developing new approaches to control the precise positioning of molecules on surfaces from the bottom-up.

Investigating how metal-organic bonds impact the electronic properties of extended molecular systems.