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There are news, salacious photos, and comics ("Pirates of the Chemistry Department") in the news section UPDATED September 23, 2013 .

Our History

O ur research group is in the Inorganic and Materials Division of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta. Our group currently consists of one postdoctoral fellow and six graduate students.

POSITIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR GRADUATE AND UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS INTERESTED IN INORGANIC SOLID-STATE AND MATERIALS CHEMISTRY.

Intermetallic compounds

We are interested in intermetallic compounds, which are formed by combining different metals or metalloids in relatively fixed ratios. Despite their importance in our modern world, they have largely escaped scrutiny by most chemists, who tend to incorporate metals in other molecules and have not viewed them in their quintessential form as solids that are shiny, hard, electrically conducting, and often magnetic, the typical properties we associate with metals in everyday life. Intermetallics find many applications, for example, as structural materials in aircraft, superconductors in magnetic resonance imaging instruments, permanent magnetis in comptuter disk drives, and thermoelectric materials in solid state refrigerators. Unfortunately, scientists still do not understand many of the basic physical properties of these compounds. Indeed, it is still not possible, except in the simplest cases, to predict what compositions and structures will be adopted by an arbitrary combination of metals!

Our research deals with intermetallic compounds that have some polarity in their bonding, involving combinations of two or more metals or metalloids from the left side of the periodic table (e.g., alkaline earth, rare-earth, or early transition metals) with those from the right side (e.g., Ge, Sb, Bi, Au, Hg). In these compounds, we have a good chance of understanding some of the bonding rules that govern their structures. These compounds are prepared by arc-melting of different metals (in much the same way that a welder coaxes metals to combine) followed by further heat treatment. When new intermetallic compounds are identified, their detailed atomic arrangements are determined by X-ray crystallography and their electrical and magnetic properties are measured. The long-term goal is then to relate the crystal structures of these compounds to their physical properties, so that ultimately we may be able to understand how to design better materials for applications.

Research projects

Specific research projects under investigation appeal to students with interests in inorganic synthesis, crystallography, physical property characterization, and theoretical analysis.

  • Structural chemistry of phosphides, arsenides, antimonides, and bismuthides
  • "Metals in negative oxidation states": new anionic substructures of Hg, Au, Ga, Ge
  • Electrical and magnetic properties of rare-earth transition-metal (f-d) intermetallics
  • Electronic structure analysis by experimental X-ray spectroscopy and theoretical calculations

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