Chemistry 2051 Symposium

Have you ever wondered about the impact chemical research will have on society by the year 2051? A recent University of Sheffield chemistry department symposium answered this question by inviting speakers to discuss what effect a changing scientific landscape will have on chemistry. The event was organised by Rebecca Smith (Ph.D. student), Elliot Denton (third year undergraduate) and Dr Jonathan Foster.

Headlining the event was guest speaker Prof. Chick Wilson of the University of Bath, who outlined how materials chemistry would impact future endeavours in technology. Many exciting fields of research were discussed, each presented with the current challenges and possible solutions. Topics included: the colonisation of Mars and other planets, where strong and multifunctional materials are needed to revolutionise the ability for humans to move out into space; medicinal advances where drugs will be uniquely tailored for each person, with the current challenges lying in the synthesis.

Organisers and speakers from the chemistry 2051 symposiumAs well as the keynote speaker, the symposium was also an opportunity for several undergraduates and postgraduate researchers to provide their insight into the future of chemistry.

Of the postgraduate researchers, Dr Daniel Mitchell talked about some of the uses of nanomaterials and how these materials can possibly overcome present challenges of data storage, medicinal applications such as drug delivery as well as biological imaging.

Dr Jonathan Foster, a recently appointed academic researcher, also presented some of the advantages of nanomaterials. Drawing from his recently published paper he discussed metal-organic nanosheets with potential applications in sensors for disease, catalysis and solar cells.

Several undergraduates also spoke about some research they had performed on topics which are of interest to them. Toby Clarke (fourth year undergraduate) spoke about work he had done over the summer at the University of Nottingham investigating photochemistry. This is one underused method of chemical synthesis using the energy of the sun to synthesise molecules, a potential future technology for mass-produced synthesis.

Elliot Denton discussed the synthesis of molecules without the use of troublesome, but currently essential, organic solvent as a medium for reactions. The removal of this necessity will be a breakthrough for the improvement of “green chemistry” leading to environmentally friendly chemical synthesis.

Finally, Josh Lawlor (third year undergraduate) presented the varying apparatus and chemical methods possible to counter the danger presented by chemical warfare agents.

(JC)