Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Building Precise Molecular Architectures to Unlock Remarkable f-Element Properties

Project description

Unleashing the potential of the f-block elements

The periodic table is a wonder of "periodicity," reflecting the organised natural progression of the relatively few elements that make up our entire universe. Conveniently, a "pull-out" in the table ensures it represents nature-imposed order regarding lanthanides and actinides, also known as f-elements. In recent years, the unique chemical, electronic and magnetic properties of these metals have gained increasing attention with applications in fields including laser technology and biomedicine. Full exploitation now requires enhanced fundamental knowledge of their chemistry. The EU-funded F-ELEMENT_ARCHITECT project is designing and building f-element complexes for future applications in molecular data storage and nuclear energy.


The astonishing properties of the f-elements have been exploited in numerous consumer technologies, despite their fundamental chemistry being poorly developed. It is now crucial to address this issue to provide the necessary insights to develop future applications. Design criteria exist to build f-element complexes with maximised physical attributes. This adventurous proposal targets the synthesis and thorough analysis of two complementary molecular f-element architectures that 1) optimise magnetic properties and 2) stabilise unusual oxidation states.

In Part 1, we target highly axial f-element complexes that lack equatorial ligand interactions. These molecules can exhibit maximised single-molecule magnet properties, including magnetic hysteresis, a memory effect and as a prerequisite of data storage, at liquid nitrogen temperatures. This is the necessary first step towards achieving high-density molecular data storage without expensive liquid helium cooling and future commercial applications.

In Part 2, we target trigonal f-element complexes that lack axial ligand interactions. These are optimal ligand fields for the stabilisation of low oxidation states, thus we aim for rare lanthanide/actinide(II) and unprecedented lanthanide/actinide(I) complexes. These compounds are ideal candidates for unique measurements of covalency by pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, which will provide textbook data that can be transferable to nuclear fuel cycles.

An ERC CoG will provide the necessary resources to build a world-leading research team that will deliver landmark synthetic results and fresh insights into f-element electronic structure, whilst opening up new chemical space for future exploitation. These findings will underpin current technologies and will facilitate the discovery of future applications, supporting key Horizon 2020 priority areas including the Flagship on Quantum Technologies, and enhancing the scientific reputation and economy of the EU.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 990 800,93
Oxford road
M13 9PL Manchester
United Kingdom

See on map

North West (England) Greater Manchester Manchester
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)