Molecules based on transition metals are widely used in the physical and biological sciences. They play essential roles in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and polymers. They are also vital for the function of some proteins inside our bodies.
The properties of these molecules are related to the shape that atoms adopt when placed around the transition metal. Studies over the last 100 years have revealed a number of common shapes (or geometries) for transition metals, including octahedral, tetrahedral, square planar, linear, and others.
Dr Crimmin’s research team have discovered a molecule with six atoms each connected to a central transition metal but only weakly connected to each other, forming a hexagonal planar geometry. This geometry is extremely uncommon for transition metals and importantly the work was able to establish the underlying theory behind the unusual shape and associated chemical bonding. The discovery is a fundamental advance and in the longer term it may give new design principles for how to use molecules based on transition metals to improve quality of life through chemistry.
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Dr Mark R. Crimmin graduated from Imperial College London in 2004 and completed a MSc by research in organic synthesis at Bristol University under the supervision of Professor Aggarwal. He received his PhD in main group chemistry and catalysis from Imperial College London in 2008 supervised by Professor Mike Hill (now at Bath) and Professor Tony Barrett. In the same year, he was awarded a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 research fellowship which he took to UC Berkeley to study with Professor Bob Bergman and Professor Dean Toste. In 2011, he returned to London as a Royal Society University Research Fellow, initially at UCL and now back at Imperial. Dr Crimmin was appointed as a Lecturer in 2011, Senior Lecturer in 2016, and Reader in Organometallic Chemistry in 2019.