Professor John Wallis is Head of Organic Chemistry and leads a research group working on organic materials, biologically active compounds and investigation of molecular interactions by X-ray crystallography. He is a member of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) advisory group.
Professor Wallis teaches on first year, third year and Master's courses.
After postdoctoral periods at University of Oxford, ETH Zurich, Switzerland and Ciba-Geigy AG, Switzerland, Professor Wallis was appointed as a Lecturer then a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent, UK. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a member of the American Chemical Society.
The Wallis group has research activity in the areas of organic conductors and superconductors derived from organosulfur donors, the study of bond formation between functional groups by studies on molecules with partially formed bonds, and in aspects of heterocyclic chemistry. The group is also involved in medicinally related projects, in particular related to cancer. There are excellent facilities for synthetic chemistry and X-ray crystallography. He welcomes applications from potential PhD students. The most recent completed PhD theses are from students who came from Libya, Italy and UK.
- Organic Conductors
A wide range of new substituted derivatives of the organosulfur donor BEDT-TTF have been prepared. Hydroxyl, amino and carboxyl derivatised materials provide both hydrogen bonding for organising the crystalline state, and also the potential for attachment of new molecular systems bringing new properties. Multi-substituted donors have been prepared, and a new strategy has been developed for providing such materials as one stereoisomer.
This has laid the foundation for a more crystal engineering approach to the design of conducting organic systems. The success in the synthesis has allowed the preparation of donors functionalised with metal binding groups which are being used for incorporation of magnetic metal ions to study the interplay of electrical and magnetic properties. The diastereoselective cycloaddition of a dithione to enantiopure alkenes has opened up access to enantiopure donors, so that the influence of chirality on electro-magnetic properties can now also be investigated. He collaborates extensively with colleague Dr Lee Martin.
The application of novel BEDT-TTF derivatives in molecular electronics, e.g. as components of transistors, is being explored.
- Bond Formation Studies
The research group studies the formation of partial bonds between functional groups by measuring the X-ray structures of molecules in which those groups are forced close to one another, for example in peri-naphthalene systems. Accurate charge density measurements analysed by the “Atoms in Molecules” approach are used to study the stages of bond formation between the reacting groups, e.g. an amine and an electrophilic alkene, which are also complemented by solid state NMR measurements on the crystal studied. The interactions of oxyanions with electrophilic centres is a current area of study.
Intermolecular interactions have been modelled by the structures of 2,2’-disubstituted biphenyl systems, where the groups are free to move apart due to the free rotation about the central bond. This provides an alternative approach for those interactions which do not commonly occur in the Cambridge Structural Database.
- Medicinal Chemistry
Collaboration with health scientists are directed at new anti-metastatic cancer agents and other therapies. The interdisciplinary approach combines computer aided design, synthesis of targets and biological testing.
Applications of reactive species such as cyclic sulfate esters and electron deficient alkynes to preparing heterocyclic compounds will be extended to the preparation of new libraries of compounds for biological testing.
Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist in the areas of organic materials chemistry, organic chemistry and studies of molecular interactions and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.
Professor Wallis has been a referee for international projects, and has spent sabbatical periods at the University of Basel, Switzerland and Angers University, France. He has been an External Examiner for BSc and MChem chemistry courses at other universities, and a PhD examiner in UK, France and India. His group participated in European COST action D35 and hosts visiting researchers. He recently gave a plenary lecture at the IUPAC 47th World Chemistry Congress in Istanbul, and organised the RSC Midlands Organic Chemistry Meeting.
Sponsors and collaborators
Current and recent research is being conducted with the collaboration, funding and / or support of:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- The Leverhulme Trust
- The Royal Institution of Great Britain
- Angus Fire Ltd.
Research funding in the period since 2004 includes:
- Bond Formation Studies By Charge Density Measurements and Solid State 17O NMR Spectroscopy, JD Wallis, EPSRC EP/E018203 (2007 to 2010), £223,399
- Preparation and Properties of Chiral Organic Conductors, JD Wallis, EPSRC EP/C510488/1 (2005 to 2008), £248,156
- Bifunctional Crystalline Materials Combining Conductivity with Magnetism or Chirality, JD Wallis, The Royal Institution (2005 to 2008), £29,250
- New Organic Conductors, JD Wallis, Royal Institution/Nottingham Trent University (2005 to 2008), £50,000
- Novel Organic/Inorganic Hybrid Materials with Electrical and Magnetic Properties, JD Wallis, Leverhulme Trust (2004 to 2007), £119,592
- Novel Fire-fighting Foams, D Fairhurst and JD Wallis, 2013-15, £150,000.
The research group has been funded by EPSRC, the Leverhulme Trust, Angus Ltd, and the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust. It collaborates widely, including the CNRS, University of Angers, France, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal, Osaka University, Japan, Tokyo University, Japan, Brock University, Canada as well as the National Crystallography Service, Southampton University, and the Solid State NMR Group at the University of Warwick, UK.
- Exo-Methylene-BEDT-TTF and Alkene-functionalised BEDT-TTF Derivatives: Synthesis and Radical Cation Salts. Zecchini M, Lopez JR, Allen S, Coles SJ, Wilson C, Akutsu H, Martin L, Wallis JD, RSC Advances, 2015, 5, 31104 – 31112
- Formation of a Zwitterionic Enolate from Tetramethylthiourea. Wannebroucq A, Pitak MB, Coles SJ, Wallis JD, Eur. Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2014, 6621-6624
- O- v N- Protonation of 1-Dimethylaminonaphthalene-8-ketones: Formation of an N-C Bond or a Hydrogen Bond to the Pi-Electron Density of a Carbonyl Group. Mercadal N, Day SP, Jarmyn A, Pitak MB, Coles SJ, Wilson C, Rees GJ, Hanna JV, Wallis JD, CrystEngComm,, 2014, 16, 8363 – 8374
- Chirality Driven Metallic versus Semiconducting Behaviour in a Complete Series of Radical Cation Salts Based on Dimethyl-Ethylenedithio Tetrathiafulvalene (DM-EDT-TTF). Pop F, Auban-Senzier P, Frackowiak K. Ptaszynski A, Olejniczak I, Wallis, JD, Canadell E, Avarvari N, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135, 17176-17186
- Activation and Regioselectivity of Five-Membered Cyclic Thionocarbamates to Nucleophilic Attack. Awheda I, Saygili N, Garner AC, Wallis JD, RSC Advances, 2013, 3, 24997-25009
- Synthesis of New Chiral Organosulfur Donors with Hydrogen Bonding Functionality and Their First Charge Transfer Salts. Awheda I, Krivickas SJ, Yang S, Martin L, Guziak MA, Brooks AC, Pelletier F, Le Kerneau M, Day P, Horton PN, Akutsu H, Wallis JD, Tetrahedron, 2013, 69, 8738-8750
- Models for Incomplete Nucleophilic Attack on a Protonated Carbonyl Group and Electron-Deficient Alkenes: Salts and Zwitterions from Peri-Substituted 1-Dimethylamino-naphthalenes. Lari A, Pitak MB, Coles SJ, Rees GJ, Day SP, Smith ME, Hanna JV, Wallis JD, Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 2012, 10, 7763-79
- The Use of the Triptycene Framework for Observing O---C=O Molecular Interactions. Bresco E, Pitak M, Coles SJ, Pilkington M, Wallis JD, CrystEngComm., 2011, 13, 6978-6984, designated a Hot paper
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