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D'Alessandro Group

Studying functional inorganic and organic materials
We focus on the development of functional materials that exhibit novel electronic, optical and magnetic phenomena.

Our aims

Our work spans the areas of inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and materials science and focuses on the development of functional inorganic materials which exhibit novel electronic, optical and magnetic phenomena.

Potential applications range from the capture of greenhouse gases to sensors, optoelectronics devices and photocatalysis.

Our key aim is to gain an understanding of the fundamental relationships between the structural features of the solution – and solid – state materials and their physical properties using a barrage of techniques.

Our research

Redox-active and radical Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs)

This project involves the design and synthesis of metal-organic frameworks which exhibit the highly sought-after properties of redox-activity and electronic conductivity. The new materials will be based on mixed-valence metal clusters of Mo, W, Ru, Os and redox-active bridging ligands. Solid-state electrochemical and spectroelectrochemical techniques will be developed to investigate the conductivity properties. The opportunities for advances at a fundamental and applied level are immense, with potential applications ranging from sensors to molecular electronics devices. This project is being supported through an Australian Research Council QEII grant.

Projects available in this area:

  1. The development of novel solid state spectroelectrochemical technqiues
  2. The development of electrochemical methods (DC and AC) to understand the fundamental aspects of electron transport in crystalline MOFs
  3. The development of ruthenium- and osmium-based Metal-Organic Frameworks
  4. Epitaxial growth of redox-active Metal-Organic Frameworks on conductive substrates as precursors to novel molecular electronics devices

Each sub-project requires students to develop a broad range of skills and techniques from the synthesis and structural characterisation of MOFs, to the detailed analysis of their optical and electrochemical properties.

The interplay between electronic and magnetic effects in framework materials

This project will be supported under an Australian Research Council grant from 2012-2015 in collaboration with Prof. Cameron Kepert. This work seeks to examine the highly novel phenomena arising from the coexistence of electron delocalisation and unpaired spins in framework materials. This is an essentially unexplored area in the field of MOFs, which is enabled by the expertise of our group in probing electronic and optical phenomena in such materials, and the expertise of Prof. Cameron Kepert's group in spin crossover, magnetic interactions and thermal expansion in framework solids. More information will be available soon and please contact me for more information on this exciting project.

Carbon dioxide capture and conversion

The development of more efficient processes for carbon dioxide capture is considered a key to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions implicated in global warming. Highly porous three-dimensional solids known as metal-organic frameworks will be developed for use as capture materials and will be characterised using a barrage of techniques (X-ray and neutron diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis and gas sorption measurements). The ultimate goal is the development of industrially-viable materials which can be readily integrated into industrial processes. This work is part of a major Australian initiative which was supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.

Read about our new technology for capturing carbon dioxide in collaboration with Professor Jeff Long and Tom McDonald at UC Berkeley, USA

Two projects available in this area:

(1) The development of electrocatalysts based on MOFs incorporating salophen and cyclen metalloligands; and
(2) The development of photocatalysts based on MOFs incorporating rhenium tricarbonyl chloride metalloligands.

Photo-active molecular sieves

Recently, methodologies for the postsynthetic covalent functionalisation of metal-organic frameworks have opened up fascinating prospects for building complexity into the pores. This project will involve the synthesis of materials as “photoswitchable molecular sieves” in which light can be used to modulate the size and polarity of the pores. The structural and physical properties of the materials will require the development of novel techniques to probe the light-activated gas permeation properties.

Mixed valency in "excited" molecules

The complex interplay between electronic and magnetic interactions is ubiquitous in chemical and physical systems (e.g., solid-state superconductors, spintronics devices) and in metalloenzymes in nature. Experimental studies in which these phenomena coexist are extremely rare. This will be addressed by developing dinuclear mixed-valence complexes which incorporate a series of bridging ligands that can mediate strong ferromagnetic “double-exchange coupling” between metal ions with unpaired electrons. The findings will have significant implications for the experimental and theoretical understanding of systems which exhibit novel magnetic and electronic phenomena.

Our people

  • Associate Professor Deanna M. D'Alessandro
  • Bowen Ding
  • Patrick Doheny
  • Dr Chanel Leong
  • Ryuichi Murase
  • Nick Shepherd
  • Hunter Windsor
  • Xiaochen Fu
  • Qinyi Gu
  • Harrison Moore
  • Benjamin Wickstein
  • Michael Dennis

Where are they now? Former members of the group have pursued a wide range of career paths, from teaching, to working in various arms of the Australian government and reserve bank, to scientific publishing and academic positions around the globe. See some of the many professions below that a degree in chemistry can lead you to!

  • Dr Carol Hua (PhD 2012-15, RACI Cornforth Medallist) - Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Michael Zarawotko, University of Limerick, Ireland, en route to Postdoctoral Fellowships (Endeavor and American Australian Association) at Northwestern University, USA (May 2017 onwards) with A/Prof. Dave Harris
  • Dr Weibin Liang (PhD 2012-15) - Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Mohammad Eddaoudi, KAUST, Saudi Arabia (2016-2017) en route to Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Adelaide with Profs. Chritian Doonan and Chris Sumby
  • Dr Pavel Usov (PhD 2012-15) - Postdoctoral Fellow with A/Prof Amanda Morris, Virgina Tech., USA
  • Dr Anita Das (PhD 2012-15) - Solution Designer with Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Canberra ACT
  • Katie Healey (Honours, 2015) - Scientific Analyst with the Reserve Bank of Australia at the RBA in Martin Place, Sydney
  • Rob Walwyn (Honours, 2015, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - Technology Consultant, tech. start-up KMPG in Barangaroo, Sydney
  • Dr Tamara Church (Postdoctoral Fellow, Feb. 2014-Mar. 2015, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - research scientist in Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • Dr Thomas Faust (Postdoctoral Fellow, Sept. 2012-Dec. 2014, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - Editor with Nature Communications, London, UK
  • Henry Jiang (Honours, 2014, joint with Prof. Tim Schmidt at UNSW) - currently conducting PhD at the University of California, Berkeley USA with Prof. Jeff Long
  • Zach Cristina (Honours, 2014, joint with Prof. Jeff Reimers at UTS) - currently conducting PhD in Physics at USyd
  • Dr Michael Murphy (PhD 2011-14, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - Postdoctoral Fellow at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), Chicago, USA
  • Kate Richards (Visiting Honours Student 2013-14, York University, UK) - staff scientist at Syngenta (UK)
  • Felix Rizzuto (Hons, UMedal 2013, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - currently conducting PhD at Cambridge University
  • James Caddy (Honours 2012-13) - Scientific Analyst in Banknote Quality with the Reserve Bank of Australia at the RBA in Martin Place, Sydney
  • Ian Hemming (Honours 2013) - currently working with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Canberra ACT
  • Brian Leung (Honours 2012, joint with Prof. Cameron Kepert) - currently working in Hong Kong


Prospective PhD Students:

  • Australian Students: Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) and University of Sydney Postgraduate Awards (UPAs) are competitive grants that are awarded on the basis of merit. If you are a current Honours student at an Australian university. Full details are available here. As a PhD student, you are eligible for a number of travel grants to attend national and international conferences, and to support research visits to overseas facilities and laboratories.

  • International Students: Depending on your home country, numerous scholarship opportunites exist if you are interested in undertaking a PhD in my group. Full details and links to these scholarships are available here and include but are not limited to those below. If you are interested in applying for any of these scholarships, or if you would like to discuss support for your PhD degree, please send me an email (

For information about opportunities to work or collaborate with the D'Alessandro Group please contact Deanna D'Allesandro.

Deanna D'Alessandro

ARC QE11 Fellow
  • Room 457, Lab 442 School of Chemistry, Building (F11) University of Sydney, NSW 2006