The project will seek to prepare molecules that react with toxic organophosphorus compounds and elicit a colorimetric response. Those which show promise will be developed further into sensors. The research will involve organic synthesis, chemical characterisation, physical organic chemistry (binding studies, chemical kinetics), computational chemistry and sensor development.
The outline research plan will involve:
1. Design and synthesis of supramolecular host molecules able to bind toxic organophosphorus compounds through non-covalent interactions and based on prior examples from the University of Brighton. The molecules will be designed to bind and react with toxic organophosphorus compounds and subsequently to change colour selectively in their presence.
2. Testing of sensing systems in solution to determine binding to breakdown products by spectroscopic methods. DFT computer models of the complexes, informed by X-ray crystal structures if possible, will be developed.
3. Development and validation of computational models for host systems, correlating predictions with experimental binding, reactivity and sensing data.
4. Incorporation of sensing systems into polymers and test strips, or sorbed onto silica, and fabrication of functional sensors to be tested at UoB and assessed against toxic organophosphorus compounds.
Tasks 1 to 3 will be performed iteratively from 0 to 24 months and task 4 will be performed during the period 24-36 months.