Professor of Chemistry
School of Physical Sciences
Faculty of Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
Christopher Sumby is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide where he undertakes research into the synthesis and properties of nanomaterials to address energy, environmental and industrial challenges. Prof. Sumby has been awarded various fellowships and awards, including an ARC Future Fellowship (2009), a South Australian Young Tall Poppy Award (2009) and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science International Invitational Fellowship (2014). Prof. Sumby is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials at the University of Adelaide where key research themes include Chemical and Electrical Energy Storage; Energy Waste Management; Heterogeneous Catalysis; and Nanoporous materials for Gas Separations. Prof. Sumby also directs the Bragg Crystallography Facility, the X-ray diffraction centre at the University of Adelaide.
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
The synthesis of nearly all industrial chemicals involves some sort of catalyst. MOFs are promising materials for heterogeneous catalysis (where the catalyst is in a different phase to the reactants) and our research team is investigating how particular structural motifs can be incorporated into the design of MOFs to develop new or more efficient catalysts. This work extends from garnering new fundamental insight into MOF supported catalysts through to making new MOF catalysts. Techniques such as post-synthetic metalation (see our review of this area) are important to preparing catalysts and we have also developed purpose-built catalytic testing facilities for examining gas phase catalysis. Some projects include:
- The development of a new group of azolium-containing materials that are important precursors to N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) containing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) with catalytic potential is a significant personal contribution. One of these NHC-MOFs is used to catalyse the hydroboration of CO2. See: A 3-D diamondoid MOF catalyst based on in situ generated [Cu(L)2] N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) linkers: hydroboration of CO₂, Chemical Communications, 2014, 50, 11760-11763.
- Using a unique framework material prepared at the UoA we have been able to show by SCXRD the products of consecutive metalation and oxidative addition steps for a Rh(I) precursor and in recent work we have obtained X-ray crystallographic ‘snapshots’ of all the intermediates in the methanol carbonylation cycle (the Monsanto process) for a modified catalyst. For example: Mapping-out catalytic processes in a metal-organic framework with single-crystal X-ray crystallography, Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 2017, 56, 8412-8416.
- Investigating how post-synthetically metalated MOF structures can be used as sacrificial templates to synthesise efficient catalysts for hydrogen conversion into suitable carrier gases for hydrogen transport, including methane and ammonia. See for example: Highly active catalyst for CO2 methanation derived from a metal organic framework template. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2017, 5, 12990-12997.
Biomolecule Protection in MOF biocomposites
Another research area utilises MOFs to protect biomolecules from inhospitable conditions. This processes, coined biomimetic mineralisation, is a rapid, easy to use coating procedure that uses the biomolecule to seed growth of a protective coating. This approach has been used to protect enzymes from harsh environments within a biomimetically mineralised MOF coating. In the past 2 years we have established a robust protocol for this chemistry, demonstrated the importance of protein surface chemistry and charge, and identified that the hydrophilicity of the MOF coating is essential for activity.
- Using MOFs to protect enzymes from harsh environments within a biomimetically mineralised coating: Control of structure topology and spatial distribution of biomacromolecules in protein@ ZIF-8 biocomposites. Chem. Mater., 2018, 30, 1069-1077.
- Demonstrating the importance of protein surface chemistry and charge: Protein surface functionalisation as a general strategy for facilitating biomimetic mineralisation of ZIF-8. Chem. Sci., 2018, 9, 4217-4223.
- Showing that the hydrophilicity of the MOF coating is essential for activity: Enhanced activity of enzymes encapsulated in hydrophilic metal-organic frameworks. J. Am Chem Soc, 2019, 141, 2348-2355.
Gas storage and separations
Gas separations are important in clean energy technologies or in the separation of chemical feedstocks. Examples of our research activity is the design of a MOF that is flexible in the 'as-synthesised' form but upon activation – the process of desolvation that yields the adsorbing material – converts to a rigid 3D material. This material has the second highest CO2/N2 separation performance of any MOF material. See: Post-synthetic structural processing in a metal-organic framework material as a mechanism for exceptional CO₂/N₂ selectivity, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135, 10441-10448.
Collaborative research with CSIRO on incorporation of molecular porous materials into mixed matrix membranes is another area of activity and two invited reviews on this topic have been published recently. See:
- AIMs: a new strategy to control physical aging and gas transport in mixed-matrix membranes. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2015, 3, 15241-15247.
- Mixed-matrix membranes. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2017, 56, 9292-9310.
Synthesis and characterisation of porous materials
A significant part of my research focuses on the synthesis and characterisation of porous materials. These contributions include: the synthesis of flexible MOF materials, novel solution-processable porous materials, and MOFs that enable structural characterisation of 'guest' metal complexes by single crystal X-ray crystallography. This experimental activity relies heavily on our in-house X-ray diffraction facilities for small molecule X-ray crystallography and powder X-ray diffraction.
- We have developed and exploited a "controlled flexibility hinge" design for MOFs that facilitate dynamic structural behaviour in the solid-state.
- Guest-induced crystal-to-crystal expansion and contraction of a 3-D porous coordination polymer. Chemical Communications, 2012, 48, 2534-2536.
- Solution-processable porous materials such as porous organic cages and metal-organic polyhedra are among research targets within our research laboratory. These are examples of novel porous materials with potential applications in gas storage, separations and catalysis.
- Kinetically controlled porosity in a robust organic cage material, Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, 2013, 52, 3746-3749.
- Hetero-bimetallic metal-organic polyhedra, Chemical Communications, 2016, 52, 276-279.
- Invited review: Synthesis and applications of porous organic cages, Chemistry Letters, 2015, 44, 5, 582-588.
- A third major contribution is the study of reactions products and chemical reactivity within the chemically and spatially confined environment of a metal-organic framework.
- Capturing snapshots of post-synthetic metallation chemistry in metal-organic frameworks, Nature Chemistry, 2014, 6, 906-912.
For MOFs to be applied as components of real-world systems, precise control over and optimisation of the physical form of the material is required. In this respect we are examining modulation of the crystal size and morphology (changes at the nanoscale) and how the application dictates the internal organisation of the solid and overall external shape of the composite (changes at the macroscale). This work is done in collaboration with Dr Kenji Sumida (ARC DECRA fellow, School of Physical Sciences, UoA). See: Particle size effects in the kinetic trapping of a structurally-locked form of a flexible metal-organic framework, CrystEngComm, 2016, 18, 4172-4179.
Date Position Institution name 2017 Professor of Chemistry The University of Adelaide 2014 - 2018 Deputy Dean (Research) University of Adelaide 2013 - 2016 Associate Professor University of Adelaide 2010 - 2014 ARC Future Fellow University of Adelaide 2010 - 2012 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide 2007 - 2010 Australian Post-doctoral Fellow (APD) University of Adelaide 2006 - 2009 Lecturer in Chemistry University of Adelaide 2006 - 2007 FRST Science and Technology Fellow University of Otago 2003 - 2006 EPRSC-funded Post-doctoral Fellow University of Leeds
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2016 Award Sandy Mathieson Award of the Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand — — — 2016 Invitation CrystEngComm New Talent Issue contributor — — — 2016 Invitation Journal of Coordination Chemistry Emerging Investigator Issue — — — 2015 Invitation RSC Emerging Investigator Issue Royal Society of Chemistry — — 2014 Fellowship JSPS International Incoming Fellowship (longterm) — — — 2009 Fellowship ARC Future Fellowship — — — 2009 Award South Australian Young Tall Poppy Award The Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) Australia — 2002 Award Ralph Earle Seminar Prize University of Canterbury New Zealand — 2002 Fellowship New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee Claude McCarthy Fellowship Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara New Zealand — 2002 Award Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology Award Royal Society of New Zealand — — 1998 Award Haydon Prize in Chemistry University of Canterbury — —
Date Institution name Country Title 2000 - 2003 University of Canterbury New Zealand PhD 1996 - 1999 University of Canterbury New Zealand BSc. (Hons.)
Year Citation 2017 Doonan, C., Burgun, A., & Sumby, C. (2017). Single site catalysis in metal-organic frameworks. Poster session presented at the meeting of ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY. San Francisco, CA: AMER CHEMICAL SOC. 2014 Doonan, C. J., Sumby, C. J., & Bloch, W. M. (2014). MOFs: Nanosized windows into Angstrom space. Poster session presented at the meeting of ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY. San Francisco, CA: AMER CHEMICAL SOC. 2006 Hardie, M., Fisher, J., Stephenson, M. D., Sumby, C. J., & Westcott, A. (2006). Materials with network structures from cavitand ligands and extended networks of discrete coordination complexes. Poster session presented at the meeting of Proceedings of 1st British-Sino Joint Symposium on Chemistry CCS/RSC/EPSRC Workshop on Materials Chemistry. Beijing, China. 2004 Hardie, M., Ahmad, R., & Sumby, C. (2004). Rigid molecular hosts as building blocks for network structures. Poster session presented at the meeting of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations of Crystallography. Budapest, Hungary: International Union of Crystallography.
— Young, R., Begg, S., Sumby, C., & McDevitt, C. (n.d.). Silver Coordination Polymers: Relationships between structure and antibacterial activity. Poster session presented at the meeting of Unknown Conference.
Year Citation 2003 Sumby, C. J. (2003). The Synthesis and Study of Bridging Heterocyclic Ligands: A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry in the University of Canterbury. (PhD Thesis).
Prof. Christian Doonan; Prof. Christopher Sumby; Dr Kenji Sumida, Examining small molecule activation in metal-organic framework pores. ARC DP190101402
This project aims to uncover important chemical knowledge regarding small molecule activation by reactive metal species that are site-isolated and stabilised within the pores of metal-organic frameworks. These insights will lead to the development of new materials that are able to activate small molecules, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and facilitate their conversion to commodity chemicals and fuels. Uncovering energy-efficient strategies for valorising abundant small molecules is a key challenge for future energy sustainability. The outcomes of this project will inform the design of the next-generation catalysts for conversion of methane to methanol, a potential fuel, and facilitate the transition to a clean energy future.
Prof. Christian Doonan; Prof. Christopher Sumby; Dr Stephen Bell; Professor Paolo Falcaro, Metal-organic frameworks at the biointerface. ARC DP170103531
Project Summary: This project aims to understand the chemistry that governs the crystallisation of metal-organic frameworks (MOF) around functional biomacromolecules and explore these bio-composites’ uses. Functional biomacromolecules, such as proteins, could be applied to biotechnology and Industrial biocatalysis. The project will develop MOF-encapsulated biocatalytic platform materials that allow inherently fragile biomacromolecules to remain active in conditions needed for industrial processes. This project could advance the widespread commercial application of biocatalysts and biosensors.
Doonan, C. J., Sumby, C. J., Huang, D. M., Champness, N. R.; X-ray snapshots of chemical transformations in open framework materials, ARC DP160103234.
Project summary: The aim of this project is to unearth structural insights into the chemistry of coordinatively unsaturated metal complexes – reactive species lacking their full complement of binding groups – by isolating them within a carefully designed metal-organic framework and examining them via single crystal X-ray diffraction. Such intrinsically reactive species play an important role in metal-based catalysis, but their definitive structural characterisation remains a significant challenge. This project aims to facilitate a detailed understanding of how these species bind and activate substrates and thus provide important first steps towards developing novel adsorbents for separations and efficient catalysts.
Kepert, C. J. and others, Solving the energy waste roadblock, Science Industry Endowment Fund
Doonan, C. J., Sumby, C. J., Long, J. R., Metal-organic frameworks as heterogeneous catalytic systems, ARC DP110103741.
Monro, T. M., Sumby, C. J., Ebendorff-Heidepriem, H., Hoffmann, P., Abell, A. D.; Disruptive approaches to biological sensing, ARC FS100100039.
Sumby, C. J.; Internally decorated discrete Metallo-supramolecular Assemblies and infinite Metal-Organic Frameworks as molecular containers; ARC FT0991910.
Sumby, C.J.; Anion Binding and Sensing With Self-Assembled Metallo-Supramolecular Assemblies; ARC DP0773011.
Gerson, A., Sumby, C. J. and others, Microdiffraction: Advanced capabilities for spatial resolution, trace phase detection and solid object analysis, ARC LE140100122.
Sumby, C. J. and 9 others, Enhanced Powder Diffraction Facilities for SA, ARC LE120000012.
Murray, K. S., Spiccia, L., Deacon, G. B., Batten, S. R., Boskovic, C., Gahan, L. R., Hanson, G. R., Sumby, C. J., Schenk, G., Abrahams, B. F., National magnetochemical facility; ARC LE100100197.
Monro, T. M., Ebendorff-Heidepriem, H., Tan, H. H., Dell, J. M., Madden, S., Sumby, C. J., Ottaway, D. J., Harris, H. H.; Capability for the fabrication and characterisation of mid-infrared photonic materials; ARC LE100100104.
Sumby, C.J., Carver, J.A., Wallace, J.C., Hrmova, M., Pring, A. Abell, A.D., Booker, G.W., Bruce, M.I., Brugger, J., Ford, C.M., Harris, H.H., Morris, J.C., Paton, J.C., Peet, D.J., Pyke, S.M., Shearwin, K.E., Menz, R.I., Abbott, C.A., Anderson, P.A., Brown, M.H., Johnston, M.R., Schuller, K.A., Lopez, A.F., Pitson, S.M., Lincoln, S.F., McKinnon, R.A.; The South Australian Facility for Small and Large Molecule X-Ray Diffraction Structure Determination (The Bragg Crystallography Facility); ARC LE0989336.
Chemistry IA - Coordination Chemistry
Foundations of Chemistry IB - Redox chemistry and main group chemistry
Environmental & Analytical Chemistry II - Atmospheric Chemistry
Molecular Structure Determination III - X-ray Crystallography
Advanced Synthetic Methods III - Organometallic Chemistry
Synthesis of Materials III - Supramolecular Chemistry
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2019 Principal Supervisor Metal Organic Cages in Polymer Synthesis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Luke Schneider 2018 Co-Supervisor Chemistry - MOFs for Energy Storage Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Mr Christopher Norman Coleman 2018 Principal Supervisor Biomineralisation of biocompatible metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Tania Michelle Pullin 2018 Co-Supervisor Development of novel antimicrobial nanomaterials for surface elimination of persistent bacteria Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Afshin Karami 2017 Principal Supervisor Investigations into the controlled release of antibacterial agents from coordination polymers Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Miss Rosemary Jane Young 2017 Co-Supervisor Biological Interactions of Ruthenium Holicates Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Kate Louisa Flint 2017 Co-Supervisor Metal-Organic Frameworks as Heterogeneous Catalysts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ricardo Atahualpa Peralta 2017 Co-Supervisor Investigation of the mechanism of multiple P450 enzyme catalysed reactions Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Matthew Podgorski 2016 Co-Supervisor Development of Antibacterial Silver-based Coordination Polymers Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Harley Dwane Betts 2016 Principal Supervisor Structuralisation and particle size effects of metal-organic frameworks Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Oliver Michael Linder-Patton
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2015 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Incorporation of N-Heterocyclic Carbenes and their Precursors into Metal-Organic Frameworks Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Patrick Keith Capon 2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Studying Transition Metal Chemistry inside a Metal-Organic Framework Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Michael Thomas Huxley 2014 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Metal-Organic Frameworks as Templates for Highly Active Heterogeneous
Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Renata Lippi 2012 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Studies of Metal-Organic Polyhedra: Synthesis and Applications in Gas Storage and Separation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jesse Miah Teo 2012 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Simulations of Molecular and Extended Porous Materials Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jack Evans 2011 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Biomimetic Synthesis of Marine Sponge Derived Natural Products Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Kevin Kuan 2011 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Metal-Organic Frameworks Containing Dihydroxy Motifs: Control of Phase Formation and Pore Environments Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Damien Rankine 2011 - 2012 Co-Supervisor Oxidative Activation of Iron- and Ruthenium- Alkynyl Complexes: Toward Square-Shaped Molecules with Four Redox-Active Metal Centres Doctor of Philosophy under a Cotutelle Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Dr Alexandre Burgun 2010 - 2013 Co-Supervisor The Combined Application of XAS and XFM Techniques to the Problem of Selenium Speciation in Biological Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Claire Weekley 2010 - 2014 Principal Supervisor Engineering Flexible Metal-Organic Frameworks from Methylene-hinged Ligands Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Witold Marek Bloch 2009 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Optical Fibre Sensors with Surface-immobilised Fluoroionophores Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Herbert Tze Cheung Foo 2009 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Supramolecular Chemistry of Beta- and Gamma- Cyclodextrin Dimers Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Huy Ngo 2009 - 2015 Principal Supervisor An investigation of transition metal complex chemistry: enzyme mimicry and Zn(II) detection. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Hilary Coleman 2008 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Studies of Hexaarylradialene Ligands: Synthesis, Coordination Chemistry and Anion Interactions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Courtney Hollis 2008 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Synthesis and Coordination Chemistry of Polypyridyl Amide Ligands Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Maisara Abdul Kadir 2008 - 2010 Co-Supervisor Polarised Alkynyl Ruthenium Complexes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Christian Parker 2008 - 2008 Co-Supervisor New Methods for the Synthesis of Diynyl, Diyndiyl and Bis(diyndiyl) Ruthenium(II) Complexes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Nancy Scoleri
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2017 - 2017 Chair Program Chair for Crystal 31 — — 2017 - 2017 Member SCANZ Council — — 2017 - 2018 Vice-President SA Branch of the RACI RACI Australia 2015 - ongoing Co-Chair User Advisory Committee, Macromolecular crystallography (MX) PAC. Australian Synchrotron — 2013 - 2016 Member User Advisory Committee, Macromolecular crystallography (MX) PAC Australian Synchrotron Australia 2013 - ongoing Member Tall Poppy Selection Panel Committee The Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) Australia
Date Role Membership Country 2015 - ongoing Member American Chemical Society United States 2015 - ongoing Member Royal Australian Chemistry Institute (MRACI CChem) Australia 2015 - ongoing Member Society of Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (SCANZ) Australia
Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country 2016 - 2019 Board Member Journal of Coordination Chemistry — —
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