Dr Sarah Heath - research
1. 5f coordination chemistry
We are interested in the behaviour in aqueous solution of the actinide ions. Our previous work with lewis acidic transition metal ions has shown that it is possible to control the hydrolysis products of these metals in the presence of chelating organic ligands by carefully controlling the pH of the system. The same principles should apply to the chemistry of the actinide ions as they too are lewis acidic. Therefore we hypothesize that we can control the hydrolysis products of the actinide ions in the presence of chelating organic ligands by careful control of pH and conversely we will be able to predict the types of actinide hydrolysis products that will form under specific pH conditions depending on the types of ligands present. Such chemistry has obvious implications for understanding the behaviour of the waste in the high pH storage ponds in sites. This chemistry could also be applied to understanding and controlling the chemistry of effluent waste.
2. 4f coordination chemistry
There is intense interest in the synthesis of non-radioactive reagents for use as labels for macromolecules in biotechnology applications. This work is driven by the fact that many of the radio-labels used presently have high costs and hazards, short lived half lives and intrinsically limited sensitivity. One of our aims in this area is to develop new lanthanide labels, which are easier to synthesise than their polypyridyl/imidazole and macrocyclic counterparts, are easily functionalised with linkers for attachment to biomolecules. The structure on the left shows an example of a dinuclear terbium complex we have synthesized which exhibits long-lived fluorescence lifetimes.