DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY AND FORENSIC SCIENCE Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Chemistry HONOURS PROJECTS FOR 2010 2 An Honours degree provides an opportunity to get involved in a research program in an area that interests you, as well as providing training in research techniques and experience with modern research instrumentation. The Honours programme adds a new dimension to the skills that you have acquired during your undergraduate years and enhances your immediate employment prospects and, more significantly, your future career potential. In the Honours year, each student undertakes a research project under the supervision of a member of staff, writes a thesis that explains the problem, outlines the research undertaken and the results obtained, and also attends a series of advanced seminars. An Honours degree widens the range of employment possibilities. It may also lead to an opportunity to proceed to a postgraduate research degree (MSc or PhD), with financial support from an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or some other postgraduate scholarship. It is advisable to contact a supervisor and discuss a potential project during the semester prior to enrollment in the Honours project. A number of research projects on offer in the department are outlined in this booklet. Feel free to discuss any of these with the appropriate supervisor. In addition, if you have an interest in carrying out a project in area that is not listed, it may be possible to arrange suitable supervision. For instance, a number of previous students have carried out their work-based projects in conjunction with the CSIRO, ANSTO or an industrial partner. If you have any questions please feel free to discuss them with the Honours Coordinator, Dr Barbara Stuart (email Barbara.Stuart@uts.edu.au). 3 Characterisation of Australian opal Supervisors: Dr Paul Thomas and Professor Abhi Ray In 1993 opal was declared ‘the national gemstone of Australia’. Australia is, in fact, the single most important producer of precious opal contributing 95% of opal to the total world production, contributing $500 million to the Australian economy annually. Most of this material comes from what is known as a sedimentary source and mostly from outback Australia such as Lightning Ridge in NSW, Coober Pedy and Andamooka in SA and Quilpie in QLD. Opal has a long history in Australia first found in SA in 1849 with the first commercial productions from Whitecliffs in NSW in 1890. Due to the importance of this gemstone to both the culture and economy of many outback centres, an understanding of opal formation and materials characteristics is essential to maintain prospecting success as well as quality and longevity of mined specimens. Synthetic opal is also finding favour with researchers as potential for the development of photonic devices aiding high throughput data transmission with improved accuracy. Projects on the characterisation of opal are available which range from chemical characterisation and potential synthesis to materials characterisation to understand degradation processes such as crazing. Travel to the opal fields is also possible for sample collection. 4 Coordination chemistry: Is there anything it can’t do? Supervisors: Professor Tony Baker and Dr Linda Xiao In the course of some research on macrocyclic ligands, we found that an open-chain ligand (L1) was formed when 2,6-diacetylpyridine (2 moles) reacted with triethylenetetramine (1 mole) in the presence of silver(I) ions. In an attempt to prepare the copper(II) complex of the ligand, we found that an internal aldol condensation had taken place to yield (L2). L2 was actually isolated as a dicopper(II) complex with an x-ray crystal structure providing incontrovertible evidence for the aldol condensation. Aldol condensations are of considerable industrial relevance. The self-condensation of acetone is carried out in ca 250 000 tonne quantities annually as part of the production of the important solvent MIBK (methyl isobutyl ketone). The aldol condensation step is carried out in the presence of strong base (hydroxide). Other large-scale industrial processes rely on aldol condensations carried out in basic conditions. The observation of an aldol condensation occurring in the presence of copper(II) ions (i.e. mild conditions) is of great interest. Before we can further develop this reaction, we need to understand the process better. It is important to isolate L1 and demonstrate conclusively that it is open-chain before investigating conditions under which it undergoes an aldol condensation in more detail. Having established that the reaction occurs as we have hypothesised, we can investigate other systems to demonstrate a wider applicability of this chemistry. This is primarily a synthesis project but there will be ample opportunity to learn a wide range of characterisation techniques. Techniques that will be used include electrospray mass spectrometry, solution nmr spectroscopy, single-crystal x-ray crystallography, UV-Vis spectroscopy and IR spectroscopy. L1 L2 5 Development of new polymeric alloys for concrete flooring Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Ronald Shimmon, Professor Georgius Adam (Centre for Built Infrastructure Research) and Dr Paul Thomas Interpenetrating polymer networks (IPNs) are a relatively recently developed class of polymer alloys with much scope for a range of industrial applications. IPNs are produced by the physical entanglement of two or more polymeric chains or by networking at least one of the components by polymerising in situ. Using this approach, the important characteristics of the component polymers can be integrated. The proposed project involves the preparation of several types of IPNs consisting of polyurethane-unsaturated polyesters and epoxy resins. The aim is to produce a low temperature curing material for concrete flooring that is acid and thermal shock resistant, has outstanding adhesive strength, has non-peel properties, with outstanding physical, mechanical, thermal and application properties. The prepared IPNs will be characterised using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and mechanical testing. The successful products will be evaluated for their implementation on concrete surfaces and/or as concrete resin matrix. Development of new surfactants for the repair of damaged window surfaces Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Ronald Shimmon, Professor Georgius Adam (Centre for Built Infrastructure Research) and Dr Paul Thomas The scratching of window surfaces is a common form of vandalism on public transport systems and there is a great need for an effective means of repairing such windows. An approach to the problem has been identified and involves the use of a surfactant based on diamine quaternary ammonium salts. These are recognised as the most efficient class of surfactants that may be used for the repair of scratched plastic and/or glass windows as they efficiently penetrate the surface before application of the glass or plastic solutions in the repair process. The proposed project will involve the synthesis, characterisation and evaluation of the new surfactant. Several suggested gemini surfactants (consist of two conventional surfactants joined by a spacer at the head group) based on our successful previous applied research activities in this field will be investigated. The surfactant characteristics will be evaluated through investigation of surface tension and the shape and size of the surfactant micelles in aqueous and organic media. The surfactants are also expected to find application in other industries including the paint, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. 6 Development of new hyper hydrogels for use in global warming remediation Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Ronald Shimmon, Professor Georgius Adam (Centre for Built Infrastructure Research) and Dr Paul Thomas This project is concerned with the synthesis of some new dual activity hyper absorbent materials for both water and CO2 . The issue global warming means that scientists are looking for various sources of materials capable of absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and transferring it to stable forms of carbonate, such as calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate or calcium magnesium. This project will involve the preparation of highly active carboxylated supported polymer hydrogels (polymers that are capable of absorbing large quantities of fluid) which absorb CO2. The CO2 will dissolve in the hydrogel structure and be bonded physically or chemically with salt cations from the first two groups of the periodic table. The prepared new products will also be characterised. The factors that affect the absorption efficiency of CO2 such as the degree of gel formation, the degree of crosslinking, the concentration of the active centres, temperature, humidity, type of cation and counter ion will be investigated. The prepared product may also find application in other fields, including the construction industry. Development of new sub-zero hardeners for epoxy resins required for industrial application Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Ronald Shimmon, Professor Georgius Adam (Centre for Built Infrastructure Research) and Dr Paul Thomas Epoxy resins are one of the most widely used resins in various industrial applications including adhesives, composite materials, laminating agents and dentistry. They have outstanding properties such as cohesive bonding, inertness, chemical resistance and electrical insulating properties. Epoxy resins require the presence of a curing agent. Chemical, thermal and/or photolytic curing agents are used and curing takes place either at room temperature or at elevated temperatures which usually takes place over several hours. The application of epoxy resins outdoors in winter in cold climates or in freezer environments is impossible with the normal hardeners and currently require special tools and cure enhancing techniques. This project involves the synthesis of several new hardeners expected to have enhanced activity in the curing of epoxy resins at sub-zero temperatures.The project will involve also synthesis and evaluation of several new types of activators to be used with the new hardeners. The project will also involve the study of the factors that affect the low temperature curing of epoxy resins, including the effect of hardener concentration, activators and activator concentration. 7 A study of the effect of environmental stress factors on the microstructural properties of corals Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Ross Hill (UTS Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster), Associate Professor Peter Ralph (UTS Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster) and Dr Paul Thomas Corals are marine organisms that include the important reef-builders that are found in tropical oceans around the world and are responsible for the formation of large geological features such as the Great Barrier Reef. These animals are from the Class Anthozoa and have the ability to precipitate calcium carbonate to create a hard skeleton. Corals form a symbiotic relationship by harbouring single celled algae (known as zooxanthellae) within their gastrodermal cell layer. These algae provide the animal host with energy from the products of photosynthesis and the animal provides the algae with a place to live and essential nutrients. However, this relationship is highly sensitive to environmental factors, with temperatures as small as 1-2°C above summer averages leading to coral bleaching events, where zooxanthellae are expelled from the host. These events are occurring more frequently, over a more widespread area and are becoming more intense due to the elevation of ocean temperatures in response to climate change. Of increasing concern to the survival of coral reefs is ocean acidification. The oceans absorb 1 million tonnes of CO2 every hour – equivalent to ⅓ the rate at which humans release it. This is leading to a reduction in ocean pH and large changes in the carbonate chemistry of seawater. The availability of carbonate ions required in the formation the coral skeleton is declining and this has consequences for the long-term existence of coral reefs. The aim of this project is to gain insight into the process of coral bleaching and ocean acidification at a microstructural level. Both the inorganic and organic components of coral can be investigated. Infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and thermal analysis are techniques that can be used to examine the chemical changes occurring to coral exposed to controlled environmental stress factors. 8 Projects in cement chemistry Supervisors: Professor Abhi Ray and Dr Paul Thomas Worldwide interest in utilising supplementary cementing materials stems from the need to reduce Portland cement (PC) consumption, the manufacturing of which is one of the biggest single contributors of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. The emissions stem from a series on energy intensive processing operations used in the manufacture of PC resulting in approximately one ton of CO2 emissions per ton of PC manufactured. The production of clinker, for example, where calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is sintered at high temperature (1400 to 1500˚C) with quartz (SiO2) is responsible for a significant proportion of the CO2 emissions not only due to the energy intensive high temperatures involved, but also in the nature of the reaction resulting in the production of CO2 as a by product: 2CaCO3 + SiO2 → Ca2SiO4 + 2CO2 The aim of this proposal is to reduce PC consumption by blending PC with supplementary cementing materials (SCM). This approach has been successful for a number of waste materials such as fly ash, blast furnace slag and silica fume; all industry waste products. This proposal intends to continue with this approach investigating a number of waste materials as SCMs. SCMs to be investigates include pozzolanic (reactive additives) materials such as clay brick waste and vermiculite and non-pozzolanic materials such as reactive magnesia. These SCMs not only reduce PC consumption, but aid improvement of properties such as strength and durability. This project proposes to optimise blend properties by characterising cement blends using thermal, microanalytical and mechanical characterisation techniques. Additionally, projects are also available in fundamental cement chemistry using model systems. Diffusion of tritium through cement paste Supervisors: Dr Paul Thomas, Professor Abhi Ray and Dr Laurie Aldridge (ANSTO) The aim of the project is to measure the diffusivity of tritium through cement paste in order to determine cost-effective ways of confining tritium. Tritium is highly mobile and the confinement of this radionuclide is a serious problem. Established techniques of both 'through diffusion' and 'in and out' methods will be conducted in ANSTO laboratories to determine the diffusion coefficient of tritium and the student will be expected to spend a major part of the project at ANSTO, Lucas Heights. Cement - heavy water interaction Supervisors: Dr Paul Thomas, Professor Abhi Ray and Dr Laurie Aldridge (ANSTO) The aim of the project is to determine the effect of heavy water on the hydration mechanisms of cement. It is well known that cement hydrates at a significantly slower rate with heavy water than with normal water although the mechanism of this unexpected behaviour is not understood. In this project the size of calcium silicate hydrates, products of chemical reaction between cement and water/heavy water, will be measured by environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) at UTS. 9 Development of polymer nanocomposites for use as heritage sandstone consolidants Supervisors: Dr Barbara Stuart, Dr Paul Thomas and Professor Abhi Ray A number of the nineteenth century heritage buildings located in Sydney are built from locally quarried sandstone. After a century of natural weathering, a number of the sandstone buildings are showing signs of deterioration. The Sydney yellow block sandstones typically contain relatively large amounts of sand bound together by a clay matrix, with small quantities of iron-rich minerals. For those responsible for the protection of socially important stone buildings, the use of consolidants is recognised as vital means of protection. A variety of consolidants have been investigated for use in the protection of different building materials and polymeric materials have been widely used to minimise the rate of decay. Earlier studies have demonstrated that polymeric nanocomposites based on organic polymers and clay may provide improved consolidation properties compared to the polymer alone. Such materials have the advantage of providing potentially greater compatibility with the stone surface. This project will involve the preparation of a range of polymer nanocomposites. The nanocomposites will be characterised using scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, x-ray diffraction, spectroscopy and thermal analysis. The successful consolidants will be applied to sandstone in order to test their effectiveness. Effect of graffiti removal solvents on heritage buildings Supervisors: Professor Abhi Ray, Dr Barbara Stuart and Dr Paul Thomas A number of heritage buildings located in Sydney are built from locally quarried sandstone and contribute a unique character to the city. Such public buildings can be susceptible to graffiti and cleaning agents containing organic solvents are used to remove paint. The NSW Heritage Council has found that common cleaning agents can have a damaging effect on sandstone surfaces causing embrittlement. This project will involve a study of the effect of solvents used in graffiti removal agents on sandstone structure, particularly the vulnerable clay component. The goal is to develop an effective graffiti removal solvent in collaboration with the Heritage Council. 10 In situ reinforced metal matrix composites Supervisor: Dr Greg Heness Metal matrix composites (MMCs) provide unique mechanical properties, however, they suffer from a lack of toughness. Preliminary work has shown that the glass will react to form a crystalline ceramic, which could be used to reinforce the aluminium matrix. This project will look at the interaction between glass and molten aluminium in order to develop an understanding of the chemical reactions and diffusion that occurs. Effect of temperature and aluminium alloy composition will be studied and the rate of ceramic formation monitored. X-ray mapping and scanning electron microscopy will be used extensively and thus the project would be suited to students who have completed the block subjects run by the MAU. If time permits, production of such MMCs will be carried out and simple mechanical properties measured. Ceramic nanocoatings on polymer substrates Supervisors: Dr Greg Heness and Associate Professor Besim Ben-Nissan A major problem with polymers is that they are soft, i.e. they scratch easily. This project will look at applying nano-thick ceramic coatings from sol-gel chemistry to polymer substrates. This will involve some sol-gel chemistry, coating techniques, surface chemistry and wetting, some basic mechanical testing and SEM work. This project gives the student access to a wide range of scientific concepts and test techniques. Properties of sol-gel developed nanocoatings Supervisors: Associate Professor Besim Ben-Nissan, Dr Greg Heness and Dr Louise Evans In the biomedical field, the surface modification of titanium and its alloys is aimed to inhibit wear, reduce corrosion and ion release, and promote bone growth and increased bioactivity. Sol-gel-derived ceramic coatings show promise due to their relative ease of production, ability to form a physically and chemically uniform coating over complex geometric shapes, and their potential to deliver exceptional mechanical properties due to their nanocrystalline structure. In this study zirconia (zirconium oxide) and titania (titanium oxide) coatings on anodised titanium will be investigated for their adhesion, fracture toughness and wear resistance. Anodised samples will be spin coated with zirconia, yielding 70-100 nm thick films. The nanocoatings will be prepared by alkoxide sol-gel chemistry, using techniques and protocols developed in an earlier work and were examined with x-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy. Coating properties and interfacial adhesion characteristics will be measured using a micro-mechanical tensile tester. Biomimetics and biomaterials Supervisors: Associate Professor Besim Ben-Nissan, Dr Greg Heness and Dr Louise Evans Biomimetics is a new field of science that studies how nature designs, processes and assembles/disassembles molecular building blocks to fabricate high performance mineral-polymer composites (e.g. mollusc shells, bone, tooth) and/or soft materials (skin, mucus, cartilage, tendon) and then applies these designs and processes to engineer new molecules and materials with unique properties. 11 Surface modification to carbon nanotubes Supervisors: Dr Greg Heness, Dr Norman Booth and Dr Mike Stevens This project stems from my sabbatical at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. The project in China is to make metal matrix composites from aluminium and carbon nanotubes (CNT) (in conjunction with ALCOA). However, the uniform dispersion of the CNTs is a significant problem. This project will look at surface treatments to the CNTs, aluminium or both to encourage the CNTs to coat the much larger aluminium particles. Surface energy measurements will be undertaken, experiments will be used to be devised to determine the coating characteristics and efficiency and the production of CNT-aluminium composites via the powder metallurgy route will be attempted. Surface energy measurements will be made, optical and SEM observation of the efficiency of coating will be undertaken and the surface chemistry taking place determined. The use of nanoparticles to produce conducting polymer composites Supervisors: Dr Greg Heness and Dr Norman Booth Recent studies by myself and colleagues have shown that controlling the dispersion of conducting nanoparticles in thermoplastic and thermosetting resin matrices can lead to very low percolation thresholds. That is, for very small additions of nanoparticles very reasonable electrical conduction can be achieved. This would lead to flexible conducting sheets or films, light weight conductors etc, and lead to energy efficiency. The student will carry out thermal analysis such as DTA/DSC/TG, microstructural analysis both optically and in the SEM, mechanical testing and electrical property characterisation. High performance polymer composites containing nano-zinc oxide Supervisors: Dr Greg Heness and Professor Michael Cortie Addition of nano-sized ZnO particles to polymers can provide additional functionalities, including modified optical and mechanical properties. Additions of ZnO will be made to both thermoplastics and thermosetting resins. One problem noted in the literature is that these fine ZnO articles can cause blistering in the polymer. This will be addressed as well. A range of mechanical, thermal and electrical properties will be determined as a function of ZnO content. The ZnO particles will be produced “in house” as well as supplied by an industrial partner. The student will carry out thermal analysis such as DTA/DSC/TG, microstructural analysis both optically and in the SEM, mechanical testing and electrical and optical property characterisation. 12 Infrared chemical imaging Supervisor: Dr Brian Reedy Dr Brian Reedy is offering projects in the area of analytical chemistry – please contact Dr Reedy for more information (Brian.Reedy@uts.edu.au). Analytical chemistry projects Supervisor: Dr Philip Doble Dr Philip Doble is offering projects in the area of analytical chemistry – please contact Dr Doble for more information (Philip.Doble@uts.edu.au). Environmental chemistry projects Supervisor: Dr Simon Apte (CSIRO Land and Water) Dr Simon Apte from the CSIRO Land and Water at Lucas Heights has projects to offer in the field of environmental contaminants. Please contact Dr Barbara Stuart for more information. Characterisation of organic polymeric constituents of photochemical smog Supervisors: Dr John Kalman and Dr Dennys Angove (CSIRO Energy Technology) Recent work at CSIRO and elsewhere has led to considerable advances in our understandng of photochemical smog. In particular, secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) have been shown to be polymeric materials formed from sugar-like oxidation products of hydrocarbons. This project focuses on characterising the molecular structures of SOAs produced under controlled conditions at CSIRO, or collected in the field. In the course of this study, the student will develop expertise in a range of techniques including NMR, LC/MS, FTIR and GPC. The figures show some results of a pilot study which used 1,3-butadiene as the model hydrocarbon. Challenges will include the identification of organic functional groups and possibly, key species in samples collected in the field. There is scope for developing chemical modification techniques of sample material to aid in the interpretative process. 13 Crystallographic, spectroscopic and microscopic characterisation of biogenic silica from the sandpaper fig, Ficus coronata Supervisors: Dr Louise Evans and Dr Norman Booth Biomineralisation is the controlled formation of inorganic minerals in living organisms. This relatively new research field is concerned with the molecular control mechanisms which are operating in biological systems to achieve the formation of well-defined inorganic solid-state materials. Biominerals are produced by species from all of the five kingdoms (animalia, plantae, fungi, monera (bacteria) and protista (include algae, slimes, diatoms and amoebas)). Phytoliths (sometimes called plant opal) are silicified structures that occur as a result of biomineralisation in plants. Ficus coronata, commonly known as sandpaper fig, is native to Australia and is found along the east coast from Mackay in Central Queensland, through NSW and into northern Victoria. It has been said that indigenous people used the leaves of this tree for polishing wood or turtle shells. There is currently interest in plant-derived silica, such as that derived from rice husk, as a raw material for synthesis of zeolitic materials including ZSM-48 (1). This project aims to develop a suitable method for extraction of the silicified macrohairs from the organic material in the leaves of Ficus coronata and to characterise the biomineral using the combined techniques of light and electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy. (1) Wang, H.P., Lin, K.S., Huang, Y.J., Li, M.C. and Tsaur, L.K. Journal of Hazardous Materials 58, 147-152. Synthesis of hydroxyapatite in the presence of biogenically-derived macromolecules (deer antler) Supervisors: Dr Louise Evans and Dr Gary Dennis (University of Western Sydney) Biomineralised tissues are a complex arrangement of organic and inorganic components. Like all bone samples, the primary inorganic component of mature deer antlers is a carbonated apatite interwoven with a collagenous organic matrix. However, deer antler is a unique example of long bone formation in as much as it shows extremely rapid formation of preosseous tissue (up to 2 cm per day) including nerve cells and vascular channels and is the only mammalian bone structure that is shed and regenerates completely every year(1). The complex array of cavities within mineralised structures is usually oriented to optimize fracture mechanics of the material. Deer antler must be extremely tough; before casting, fully calcified antler can withstand applied stresses of over 300 MPa, at least 100 MPa higher than that of mammalian femur. Antler either in the form of velvet or as fully calcified tissue has been used in Chinese medicine for at least 2000 years; its use in western medicine is gaining in popularity as people strive to minimise the ingestion of chemicals and genetically modified foodstuffs(2). This project aims to isolate organic matrix macromolecules from deer antler velvet and to conduct kinetic experiments on the formation of hydroxyapatite (HAp) under conditions of physiological pH, temperature and ionic strength. In addition, experiments will be conducted to induce crystal formation on partially calcified velvet substrates. Crystal morphology will be determined using electron microscopy; kinetic experiments will be conducted using a pH-stat autotitrator and inorganic precipitates will be characterised using the combined techniques of X-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy. (1) Rolf, H.J. and Enderle, A. (1999) Anat. Rec. 255, 69-77. (2) Cho, C.-H., Woo, Y.-A., Kim, H.-J., Chung, Y.-J., Chang, S.-Y. and Chung, H. Microchemical journal. 68, 189-195. 14 Formation of fuels from carbon dioxide using solar energy and new hotocatalysts Supervisor: Dr Andrew McDonagh This research focuses on a process where carbon dioxide is recycled into useful fuels using solar energy. In particular, the project will involve: • preparing and characterising new photo-catalysts functionalised with light-absorbing dyes • producing methanol (a useful fuel) from carbon dioxide and water using the new photo- catalysts and light as an energy source. This work should lead a better understanding of the role of light-absorbing dyes to increase the rate of hydrocarbon production from carbon dioxide using solar-driven photo-reduction reactions. Figure 1. Reaction of CO2 and H2O with dye-coated TiO2 photocatalyst particles 15 New ruthenium complexes for molecular electronics Supervisor: Dr Andrew McDonagh There are a number of projects that are on offer in this area. Interested students should discuss the various options with Dr Andrew McDonagh. In general, the aims of this project are to investigate some molecular electronic properties of new molecular structures based on phthalocyanine complexes. In these projects, the student may focus on the synthesis of new transition metal complexes that incorporate functional groups that can systematically modify molecular electronic properties, or on the measurement of molecular electronic properties of the new complexes in thin films on surfaces and in molecular electronic devices. Scheme 1. Example of a successful synthesis of some new ruthenium phthalocyanine complexes. 16 Free radical chemistry and natural product chemistry projects Supervisor: Dr Shanlin Fu Various oxidants are generated during normal metabolic processes and during inflammation in biological systems. These oxidants include free radical species such as peroxyl (ROO•), alkoxyl (RO•) and hydroxyl (HO•) radicals as well as non-radical oxidants such as hypochlorite (-OCl) hypobromide (-OBr), and peroxynitrite (-OONO). These free radical species and non-radical oxidants are highly reactive. Damage to biomolecules such as proteins, lipids, and DNA by these oxidants are known to be associated with pathological events such as cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cataract, ageing and Alzheimer’s disease, although the exact role of the damage in such processes is still largely unknown. Studying the chemical reactions between biomolecules and these oxidants is important in understanding the mechanism of pathogenesis and in developing strategies of disease prevention and treatment involving the use of antioxidants (either derived from natural sources e.g. herbal medicine or from structure modification of drugs with known anti-oxidation properties). Please contact Dr Shanlin Fu for more details if you are interested in any of the following research areas. 1. Searching for specific reaction products of bio-molecules (proteins, lipid, DNA) exposed to the common endogenous oxidants (e.g. hydroxyl radicals and hypochlorite) as potential biomarkers of oxidative stress; 2. Searching for potent antioxidants from natural sources (e.g. Australian native plants and Chinese herbal medicine); 3. Searching for more potent antioxidants by conducting structure-activity relationship study of compounds with known anti-oxidation properties. 17 Synthesis of alkaloid-like molecules for potential anti-cancer agents Supervisor: Associate Professor Alison Ung The cyclic imine 1 was previously developed by Bishop et al.1-3 via the Bridging Ritter reaction (Scheme 1). This cyclic imine was shown to react with dimethyl acetylenedicarboxylate (DMAD) to form structurally diverse alkaloid-like molecules such as compound 1. This project aims to synthesise a number of alkaloid-like molecules that are structurally diverse and bear drug-like features. The cyclic imine 1 will be used as the central intermediate, in two synthetic steps, to generate novel and relatively complex alkaloid-like molecules. Since the natural alkaloids often exhibit a rich spectrum of biological activity and it would be likely the case for the alkaloid-like molecules. Therefore the potential biological activity of these molecules will be assessed, in particular, for anti-cancer activity. References 1. I.C.C. Bong, A.T. Ung, D.C. Craig, M.L. Scudder, R. Bishop, Aust. J. Chem., 42, 1929-1937 (1989). 2. Q. Lin, G.E. Ball, R. Bishop, Tetrahedron, 53, 10899-10910 (1997). 3. Q. Lin, D. Djaidi, R. Bishop, D.C. Craig, M.L. Scudder, Aust. J. Chem., 51,799-806 (1998).