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Professor Paul F. McMillan

Summary
  Paul F. McMillan holds the Ramsay Chair in the Chemistry Department at UCL. His research and teaching activities are based within the Inorganic and Materials Chemistry section but his work is highly interdisciplinary and extends into areas from Earth and planetary sciences to extremophile biology and biophysics. His group currently consists of 4 postdocs, 2 PhD students and 2 MRes students. Research in inorganic materials includes the synthesis and characterisation of layered, polymeric and three-dimenensional structured carbon nitrides being developed for energy applications. That work includes developing exfoliation strategies to achieve solutions of single- to few-layered graphene-like sheets of the semiconducting materials. Other projects include high pressure-high temperature synthesis of novel materials and investigations of natural and synthetic mineral structures. In collaboration with rsearchers at the Royal Veterinary College he is developing Raman spectroscopy based strategies for early diagnostic testing of cartilage disease. He also investigates the high pressure survivability and adapation of extremophile bacteria as well as their proton dynamics and electrochemical behaviour. He has worked at UCL since 2000 (2000-7: Professor of Solid Chemistry at UCL and the Royal Institution; 2008-present: Sir William Ramsay Chair of Chemistry). Before this, he was Presidential Professor of the Sciences and Director of the Center for Solid State Science at Arizona State University.  
Summary of research group
  Our group is currently working on themes of (a) new materials synthesis and applications to energy science; (b) survivability and functioning of organisms under extreme high pressure conditions; (c) applications of vibrational spectroscopy in catalysis and medical science. In theme (a) we are investigating layered and framework materials based on carbon nitride for use in battery electrodes and as fuel cell catalyst supports. We are developing techniques to exfoliate the layered compounds to form nanosheets in solution. We are also investigating the high pressure behaviour of the carbon nitride compounds to create new high- and low-density phases. In (b) we study simple to complex organisms under static and dynamic pressurisation to understand their survivability and biological functioning during extreme compression conditions. In (c) we are developing diagnostic tools based on fibre-optic Raman spectroscopy for in situ studies of catalytic processes and early stage cartilage disease. We are also continuing earlier work on polyamorphism in glasses and liquid-liquid phase transitions to expand our understanding of the physical chemistry of the amorphous state, and are pursuing in situ studies of hydrous high pressure minerals to understand the role of water in the Earth's mantle.
Research highlights
  In J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135 (2013) 9503 we reported synthesis of new polymorphs of hafnium nitride created by combining molecular precursor synthesis with laser-heated diamond anvil cell (DAC) techniques. This work was highlighted by the ESRF. A similar approach was used to synthesise new polymorphs of Ta3N5 in Chem. Comm. 50 (2014) 10041.   Sci. Rep. 3 (2013) 2122 showed formation of interlayer C-N linkages in a graphitic carbon nitride compressed in a DAC to create a new material with mixed sp2-sp3 bonding. Frontiers Microbiol. 5 (2014) 612 described the pressure resistance of Shewanella oneidensis into the GigaPascal range. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 16 (2014) 22083 investigated the vibrational properties of metastably coexisting low- and high-density Y2O3-Al2O3 glasses prepared following a liquid-liquid phase transition occurring at constant chemical composition during quenching. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 14 (2015) 1190 reports disinfection by bacterial (E. coli) elimination from water following photocatalysis by solar irradiation of WO3:TiO2 semiconductor heterojunctions prepared by compressing discs of nanoparticle powders. Photocatalysis by carbon nitride materials and their application as fuel cell catalyst supports presented in J. Phys. Chem. C 117 (2013) 7178 and 118 (2014) 6831.
Research Facilities
  Laboratory based Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, high pressure synthesis and LH-DAC facilities. Synchrotron and neutron studies at national and international sources.
Awards
 

• Peter Day Award, RSC, 2011

• Eyring Lecturer, Arizona State University, 2010

• Chair, MC-8 "Functional Materials by Design" international conference, RSC, 2007

• EPSRC Senior Research Fellow, 2007-12

• Solid State Chemistry Award, RSC, 2003

• Director, Erice Crystallography School "High Pressure Crystallography", 2003

• Chair, Gordon Research Conference "Advances in High Pressure Research", 2002

• Research Merit Award, Wolfson Foundation and Royal Society, 2001-6

• Foreign Associate, Institut Universitaire de France, 1997

• Undergraduate Teaching Award, Arizona State University, 1990, 1994

• Graduate Teaching Award, Arizona State University, 1988

Memberships
  Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry
Research interests
 

• Solid state chemistry

• High pressure science

• Vibrational spectroscopy

• Biophysics and extremophile behaviour

• Medical applications of physical techniques

• Materials for energy applications

Teaching
 
  • Lecturer, 1st Year UG - Chemistry for Biologists (Spectroscopy and Imaging)
  • Lecturer, 4th Year UG/MRes - Structural Methods (Vibrational Spectroscopy)
  • Demonstrator, 2nd Year UG - Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
  • Co-coordinator, 4th year MSci research project
  • Chair, Departmental Staff-Student Committee