Prof. Ward’s research is in the general field of coordination chemistry: the structures, properties and applications of metal complexes with polydentate ligands.
Two areas of particular interest at the moment are:
(i) Self-assembly and host-guest chemistry of coordination cages. Coordination cages are hollow, pseudo-spherical metal complexes which self-assemble from metal ions and bridging ligands. They have elaborate and beautiful structures, and can bind small molecule ‘guests’ in the central cavity. This host-guest chemistry can result in useful properties and applications such as catalysed reactions of guests bound in the cavity; pH-dependent uptake and release of drug molecules; binding of gas molecules; and photoinduced electron transfer from a cage to a bound guest.
(ii) Photophysical properties of transition-metal (d-block) and lanthanide (f-block) complexes. Heterodinuclear (transition metal ion + lanthanide metal ion) systems have been of particular interest because of the ability of the transition metal ion excited state to sensitise lanthanide luminescence; and because the ability of such complexes to show luminescence from two centres simultaneously has applications in areas from analytical measurements to cell imaging.