Dr Tom Chamberlain


I graduated with a MSci in Chemistry in 2005 before obtaining a PhD in the synthesis of novel functional fullerene molecules and the subsequent formation of fullerene/carbon nanotube hybrid structures, 2009, both at the University of Nottingham. I then joined the Nottingham Nanocarbon group as a post-doctoral research associate studying the use of supramolecular forces, such as van der Waals and H-bonding, to organise molecules in 1D and 2D arrays utilising carbon nanotubes as quasi 1D templates. I then went on to establish the application of carbon nanotubes as catalytic nanoreactors for the formation of novel molecular and nanostructured products.

I was appointed as a University Academic Fellow in Nanotechnology for Catalysis at the University of Leeds in 2015.

Research interests

My research group is interested in forming molecular complex and nanocomposite containing nanomaterials for application in sustainable heterogeneous catalysis. Our work combines fullerene based synthesis, coordination chemistry, supramolecular assembly and nanomaterial fabrication. We are also focused on studying the interactions and reactions of molecules and nanostructures at the atomic level using electron microscopy and electrochemistry with the principle aim of learning fundamental information about the inorganic chemistry of transition metal/carbon nanotube based nanomaterials.

Carbon nanostructure based heterogeneous catalysts
Carbon nanostructures (CNS), including fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphitised carbon nanofibres and graphitised mesoporous carbon all contain nanosized features, well-defined channels and/or pores, which can be tailored to encapsulate molecular and nanoparticulate catalysts. The dimensions of the pores and channels in CNS, 1-50 nm, are also ideal sterically confined environments for performing controlled chemical reactions with the extreme confinement imposed directing the formation of new materials and causing changes in selectivity for established reactions.

Carbon nanoreactors are hybrid materials consisting of metal nanoparticles or complexes supported within CNS and are the ideal heterogeneous nanocatalysts for small scale fine chemical production and large scale industrial processes. The high electrical conductance of CNS also enables the internal channels to act as both nano-electrode and nanoreactors utilising immobilised metal catalytic centres for electrochemically driven chemical transformations within the tuneable reaction space imposed by the CNS. The clean and atom efficient nature of electrochemical catalysis makes this an attractive route towards more sustainable catalysis.

Watching catalysis in real time at the atomic level
All of our research is underpinned by a detailed understanding of the structure of catalytic materials at the atomic level. We use a wide range of solid state analytical techniques including aberration corrected high resolution electron microscopies (AC-HRTEM and STEM), X-ray absorption and diffraction and gas adsorption to elucidate the exact structure of our catalytic materials. In addition it is possible to 'watch' the formation of heterogeneous catalysts from metallic precursors and the evolution and behaviour of the catalyst during chemical reactions in real time using a combination of in situ AC-HRTEM and near edge X ray absorption fine structure experiments to give atomic level structural information and reveal mechanistic details of how catalysts function.

Research groups and institutes

  • Crystallisation and Directed Assembly

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our research opportunities allow you to search for projects and scholarships.