Mike WardProf. Michael D. Ward

Professor of Inorganic Chemistry & Head of Department

Room: C86

Tel: +44-(0)114-22-29336 (PA)/+44-(0)114-22-29484 (direct)

Fax: +44-(0)114-22-29346


personal email:



Biographical Sketch

Prof. Ward obtained a BA in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in 1986. This was followed by a PhD from the same institution in 1989, after which he became a postdoctoral research associate at the Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg. In 1990 he was appointed as Lecturer at the University of Bristol, where he was subsequently promoted to Reader and Professor. In 2003 he was appointed as professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Sheffield. He was Head of Department of Chemistry from 2007 to 2011 and again from 2015 onwards.


RSC Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize (1999); RSC Sir Edward Frankland Fellowship (2000-2001); RSC Industrially-sponsored award for Chemistry of the Transition Metals (2005)

Research Keywords

Coordination chemistry; ligand design; supramolecular chemistry; transition metals; lanthanides; optical and electrochemical properties of metal complexes; photophysical properties of metal complexes; spectroelectrochemistry.

Teaching Keywords

Symmetry and Group Theory; Bio-inorganic Chemistry

Selected Publications:

  • Quantification of solvent effects on molecular recognition in polyhedral coordination cage hosts, M. Whitehead, S. Turega, A. Stephenson, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2013, 4, 2744-2751
  • D→f energy transfer in Ir(III) / Eu(III) dyads: use of a naphthyl spacer as a spatial and energetic ‘stepping stone.’  D. Sykes, S. C. Parker, I. V. Sazanovich, A. Stephenson, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward, Inorg. Chem., 2013, 52, 10500–10511.
  • Sensitisation of Eu(III)- and Tb(III)-based luminescence by Ir(III) units in Ir/lanthanide dyads: evidence forparallel energy-transfer and electron-transfer based mechanisms. D. Sykes, A. J. Cankut, N. Mohd Ali, A. Stephenson, S. J. P. Spall, S. C. Parker, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward. Dalton Trans., 2014, 43, 6414-6428.
  • Stepwise synthesis of a Ru4Cd4 coordination cage using inert and labile subcomponents: introduction of redox activity at specific sites.  A. J. Metherell and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2014, 50, 6330–6332.
  • Mapping the internal recognition surface of an octanuclear coordination cage using guest libraries.
    S. Turega, W. Cullen, M. Whitehead, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 8475–8483.
  • Combined two-photon excitation and d→f energy-transfer in a water-soluble Ir(III)/Eu(III) dyad: two luminescence components from one molecule for cellular imaging. E. Baggaley, D.-K. Cao, D. Sykes, S. W. Botchway, J. A. Weinstein and M. D. Ward, Chem. Eur. J., 2014, 20, 8898–8903.
  • pH-Dependent binding of guests in the cavity of a polyhedral coordination cage: reversible uptake and release of drug molecules. W. Cullen, S. Turega, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 625–631.
  • A new ligand skeleton for imaging applications with d-f complexes: combined lifetime imaging and high relaxivity in an Ir/Gd dyad. A. Jana, E. Baggaley, A. Amoroso and M. D. Ward, Chem. Commun., 2015, 51, 8833–8866
  • Virtual screening for high-affinity guests for synthetic supramolecular receptors. W. Cullen, S.Turega, C. A Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 2790–2794.
  • pH-Controlled selection between one of three guests from a mixture using a coordination cage host.
    W. Cullen, K. A. Thomas, C. A. Hunter and M. D. Ward, Chem. Sci., 2015, 6, 4025–4028.

Research Interests

MDW fig 1My research interests cover all aspects of the preparation, structural characterisation, and physical properties (electrochemical, magnetic, optical and photophysical) of complexes based on transition-metal (d-block) and lanthanide (f-block) elements. As such the work is interdisciplinary and covers many aspects of inorganic, organic, physical and materials chemistry. Currently active areas of interest include the following.

Self-assembly and host-guest chemistry of supramolecular cage complexes.

Reaction of relatively simple bridging ligands with labile first-row transition metal ions can afford remarkably elaborate high-nuclearity cage complexes which bind anionic guests in their central cavity. In some cases the central anions act as templates to induce the assembly of the cage around them. The largest example we have characterised so far is a tetra-capped, truncated tetrahedral cage containing sixteen Zn(II) ions, twenty four bridging ligands, and thirty two anion. Such cage complexes are of interest not only for their structures but also for their host-guest chemistry associated with anion uptake into their central cavities, and their photophysical properties.

Photophysical properties of polynuclear assemblies.

MDW fig 2 Complexes in which a light-absorbing group with a long excited-state lifetime (commonly, a Ru(II)-polypyridyl unit) is attached to a metal fragment which can use the excited-state energy, either in a redox reaction or by accepting it to enter an excited state of its own, are of particular interest in a variety of fields ranging from solar energy harvesting, luminescent cellular probes, and display devices.  Particular emphases at the moment are on:

(i) the use of transition metal compleses as chromophores to sensitise luminescence from lanthanides in mixed d/f complexes; this can lead to two-component (blue and red) luminescence which combines to give white light from a single molecule (see Figure);

(ii) use of luminescent cyanometallate complexes such as [Ru(bipy)(CN)4]2- as components of supramolecular assemblies via participation of the cyanide units in coordination to other metal ions, or hydrogen- or halogen- bonding;

(iii) Use of picosecond time-resolved infra-red spectroscopy to understand photoinduced energy and electron transfer in polynuclear assemblies.

Teaching Section

Inorganic Chemistry

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Group Theory in Chemistry (Year 2)
    This segment introduces group theory in chemistry, and applies it to the analysis of molecular orbital diagrams and to determining the stretching vibrations in simple molecules.
  • Biocoordination Chemistry (Year 3)
    This segment provides an introduction to the role of inorganic materials (particularly transition metal ions) in biological systems.
  • The lanthanide elements: properties and applications (Year 3)
    This segment provides an introduction to the lanthanide and actinide elements, their coordination and organometallic chemistry, and the applications of their compounds.

Tutorial & Workshop Support

  • Third Year Workshops.

Laboratory Teaching

  • Fourth Year Research Project.

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

  • Cankut A & Ward MD (2014) Synthesis and application of iridium (III) chromophores for cell-imaging and sensitisation of lanthanides. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 248
  • Cullen WM, Hunter CA & Ward MD (2014) Dynamic equilibrium between coordination cages of different sizes. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 248
  • Ward MD, Hunter CA, Cullen W, Turega S & Whitehead M (2014) Host-guest chemistry of a cubic coordination cage: pH dependent uptake and release of drug molecules. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 248
  • Loftus S, Vander Griend DA & Ward MD (2012) Thermodynamic snapshots of the self-assembly of a supramolecular cube. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 244
  • Sykes D, Shelton AH & Ward MD (2011) Dual luminescence in d-f hybrid complexes for display devices. ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, Vol. 241
  • Ward MD (2007) Transition-metal sensitised near-infrared luminescence from lanthanides in d-f heteronuclear arrays. COORDINATION CHEMISTRY REVIEWS, Vol. 251(13-14) (pp 1663-1677)
  • Ward MD (2005) Near-infrared electrochromic materials for optical attenuation based on transition-metal coordination complexes. JOURNAL OF SOLID STATE ELECTROCHEMISTRY, Vol. 9(11) (pp 778-787)
  • Paul RL, Bell ZR, Jeffery JC, McCleverty JA & Ward MD (2002) Anion-templated self-assembly of tetrahedral cage complexes of cobalt(II) with bridging ligands containing two bidentate pyrazolyl-pyridine binding sites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 99(8) (pp 4883-4888)
  • Cowin MA, Varrazza R, Morgan C, Penty RV, White IH, McDonagh AM, Bayly S, Riley J, Ward MD & McCleverty JA (2001) Low power electrochromic variable optical attenuator with 50dB attenuation range. Conference on Optical Fiber Communication, Technical Digest Series, Vol. 54(3) (pp WR6/1-WR6/3)