Professor Andrea Sella


Professor Sella is a synthetic inorganic chemist, teacher of chemistry, and presenter of chemistry in public both live on stage, on radio and television, and through social media. He writes the Classic Kit column for Chemistry World and tweets under the name #SellaTheChemist.

Professor Sella works in collaboration with several research groups on synthesis of new materials and nanostructured solids.

  1. Layered carbonitrides - Carbonitrides are layered materials, containing both carbon and nitrogen. These materials are of interest because of their potential for water splitting and as hosts for battery applications. They are prepared by a variety of routes, in particular the thermolysis of dicyandiamide (DCDA) at high temperature. We work in collaboration with Prof Paul McMillan to prepare and modify these materials and are developing routes to materials of different and more complex topologies with Dr Hugo Bronstein.
  2. Hydrogen storage materials - We currently collaborate with Cella Energy and Prof Neal Skipper (UCL Physics) on a project to understand the hydrogen storage material ammonia-borane (AB, NH3-BH3), considered to be one of the most promising materials for vehicle applications. Thermolysis of AB generates several moles of hydrogen but produces the poorly characterized polyborazylene as an waste product. Our project is aimed at its regeneration using ammonia and a variety of hydrogen sources. We use multiple techniques to explore this chemistry including solid and solution state NMR and neutron scattering. 
  3. Filling of carbon nanotubes and related systems - We collaborate with Dr Christoph Salzmann and Prof Milo Schaffer (Imperial) on the filling of single walled carbon nanotubes with salts and reactive species like phosphorus and sulphur. The work makes extensive use of HRTEM and Raman spectroscopy. 
  4. Educational development - Professor Sella has long used e-Learning tools to strengthen his teaching. He is extensively involved in the testing and development of new approaches to laboratory practice and for formal teaching and the trialling of improved self-study methods for students. This includes the development of online and video resources for teaching, and the development of new practical modules that combine teamwork, coding, and measurement.
Summary of research group
  We are interested in the synthesis and electronic structure of lanthanide complexes, particularly the bonding in cerium (IV) species. We are also involved in the low temperature templated synthesis of mesostructured materials of such semiconductors as titanium dioxide, silicon, and germanium.
Research highlights
Research Facilities
Research interests