Press Releases

Major grant success for University's Chemistry department – University of Reading

Release Date : 30 March 2009

The University of Reading's Department of Chemistry has been awarded over half a million pounds in four major grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The research funded by these grants will in the future help to investigate drug synthesis, reduce our energy consumption help design new materials and learn more about Alzheimer's Disease.

The grants will support activities involving collaborations between researchers at the University of Reading and at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus facilities, including the Diamond Light Source and ISIS. The award will support four PhD studentships and builds on existing links and funded collaborations.

Dr Roger Bennett is the Principal Investigator on a project to discover why metals spread out on polar oxide surfaces such as zinc oxide whereas they grow as droplets on other oxides. He said "This research will enable further developments of useful devices and catalysts in the future which speed up devices, reduce our energy consumption, or enable us to manufacture low carbon, efficient fuels and chemicals."

Professor Ian William Hamley is the Principal Investigator on a project which will investigate the structure of molecules relevant to protein misfolding (amyloid) diseases such as Alzheimer's. Professor Hamley said "We will use x-ray scattering at Diamond and neutron scattering at ISIS to probe the nanostructures of molecules similar to those involved in the disease process. This will also enable us to investigate possible therapeutic approaches to diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease."

Drs Ann Chippindale and Simon Hibble have received a grant for a project to explore the new chemistry and physics of transition-metal cyanides, which have interesting structural and physical properties. Dr Chippindale said "Underlying all this work is the need to know the detailed structures of the materials on the atomic scale in order to explain their chemical and physical behaviours. This research will help us to determine how the structure of transition-metal cyanides changes with temperature and pressure. The knowledge of how structure evolves as a function of temperature and pressure is important for the design of new materials of potential technological importance."

Dr Georg Held is the Principal Investigator on a project, which will use a technique known as surface X-ray diffraction to study the arrangement of atoms at the surfaces of specific molecules. This will have particular importance to the synthesis of drugs. Dr Held said "Most molecules that play an important role in biology are chiral, meaning that their mirror images cannot be matched with the original by any rotation in space - just as our left and right hands. These molecules exist as 'left-handed' or 'right-handed' versions. Although both versions are identical in their physical properties, all living organisms on earth only use or produce one of each biomolecule which can have an effect on function."


Notes to Editors

For more information please contact Dr Lucy Chappell, Research Communications Manager, University of Reading on 0118 378 7391 or

The University of Reading is ranked as one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The quality and diversity of the University's research and teaching is recognised internationally as one of the top 200 universities in the world.

The University is home to more than 50 research centres, many of which are recognised as international centres of excellence such as agriculture, biological and physical sciences, European histories and cultures, and meteorology.

The University takes a real-world perspective to its research and is consistently one of the most popular higher education choices in the UK.

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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. Website address for more information on EPSRC:


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