Associate Professor, Chemistry
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
The preparation, characterization, and study of new electronic, optical, and/or magnetic materials based on two classes of molecules with already established physical properties.
The research will advance the development of new chemical, electronic, and magnetic devices.
Creating Novel Hybrid Molecule-based Materials for the 21st Century
As we approach the physical limits of conventional silicon-based electronics, there is a need for new types of materials that can be used to create even smaller devices. Materials created via molecular electronics are strong candidates. Molecular electronics uses assemblies of individual molecules to mimic larger, conventional structures such as switches and semiconductors.
To gain the necessary control over the composition, size, and function of these molecules, chemists have turned to the realm of supramolecular chemistry. Supramolecular chemistry uses molecular precursors that are held together by reversible intermolecular forces such as hydrogen bonding and metal-to-ligand interactions. Examples of molecular materials prepared with this approach include molecular metals, semiconductors, superconductors, and magnets.
Melanie Pilkington, Canada Research Chair, is one of the aforementioned chemists. She carries out research in synthetic and structural inorganic chemistry with a focus on the problems that occur at the interface of supramolecular and materials chemistry. She designs and synthesizes versatile molecular building blocks as precursors for the self-assembly of molecule-based electronic, optical, and/or magnetic materials, e.g., organic conductors and magnetic clusters. Her current work focuses on the combination of metal centres with two classes of organic molecules, namely organo-sulfur compounds (tetrathiafulvalenes) and large macrocycles (phthalocyanines). She is able to exploit the flexibility and versatility of the organic molecules while making the most of the magnetic, electrical, and optical properties of the metal.
A major challenge of materials chemistry is to find molecule-based materials that combine properties not normally associated with a single material, e.g., coupling conductivity with magnetism. For this reason, one of Pilkington's long-term goals is the design and study of organic conductors that contain localized magnetic moments. The synthesis of conducting molecular magnets in which there is an interaction between the electronic and magnetic properties could eventually lead to the development of new electronic devices that operate on the nanoscale.
CRC profile: Melanie Pilkington