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Collaboration boosts coordination chemistry

Nature 527 (12 November 2015)
Published online 11 November 2015

The State Key Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry conducts cutting-edge interdisciplinary research at the frontiers of inorganic, organic, polymer and materials chemistry. It is the first state key laboratory for inorganic chemistry in China.

Emerging from the Institute of Coordination Chemistry, Nanjing University — established in 1978 as the first inorganic chemistry research institute in China — the State Key Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry (SKLCC) was officially approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1991. Led by An-Bang Dai, Xiao-Zeng You and many others, the SKLCC has played a key role in the development of coordination chemistry research in China over the past two and half decades. It achieved an ‘A level’ laboratory accreditation in the first nation-wide evaluation in 1995 and has been ranked highly in subsequent evaluations.

Coordination, collaboration and interdisciplinary research

The SKLCC has been focusing on basic coordination chemistry research including synthesis, structures, properties, functions and applications. Its key research areas are based on fundamental science and are closely related to materials and life sciences. These areas include: (1) Functional coordination chemistry; assembly of molecular and supramolecular materials and applications of these materials to information storage, photoelectric conversion, energy storage, adsorption and separation materials, molecular magnetism, and molecular electronic devices. (2) Bioinorganic chemistry; investigating the synthesis and structure of biologically active complexes and metallic biological macromolecules, designing new metallic medicines, mimicking metal enzymes and so on. (3) Solid-state coordination chemistry; exploring new synthetic methods for preparing low-dimensional, layered, porous nanomaterials. (4) Surface coordination chemistry; studying surface and interface microstructures and their applications in advanced materials. (5) Organometallic chemistry; synthesizing new organometallic compounds based on coordination chemistry, studying new metal complexes in inert bond activation and catalysis, and developing applications for metal organic materials. Using metal organic chemical vapour deposition, the university has realized large-scale industrial production of high-purity metal organic sources and now accounts for more than 80 per cent of the market share in China.

Ever since its foundation, the SKLCC has pursued extensive collaborations and scientific exchanges with domestic and international research teams, resulting in remarkable achievements. The SKLCC has also hosted many national and international conferences, which have had a major impact on the development of coordination chemistry in China. In 1987, the SKLCC hosted the 25th International Conference of Coordination Chemistry — the biggest international conference held in China since the national economy reforms in the late 1970s. The SKLCC enthusiastically works with scientists around the world to stimulate and promote coordination chemistry research in China.

Attracting talented researchers

Aspiring to become one of the world’s leaders in coordination chemistry research, the SKLCC is very keen to stimulate further cooperation and to intensify collaborations in research projects of mutual interest. Professors, visiting scholars, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students are all encouraged to apply to join the SKLCC. Various funding schemes including generous scholarships, research funds, preferential enrollment policies and other measures have been implemented to facilitate this. A number of outstanding young scholars have been recruited by the SKLCC in the past few years, six of whom were selected in the Thousand Youth Talents Plan in China.

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