On Wednesday, January 12th, Queen's chemistry professor Cathleen Crudden and her team were one of two that received a grant of $24 Million from the Canadian government for NFRF (New Frontiers in Research Fund). Her team's research explores extending the lifespan of metals. Her research can be found on Queen's Gazette. Among her team members is our own Prof. Alastair McLean, principal investigator of the McLean Research Group who contributed to the successful grant from NFRF.

The McLean research group has worked closely with Prof. Cathleen Crudden’s research group in Chemistry, since 2012, investigating how N-heterocyclic carbenes self-assemble on metal surfaces. The initial experiments were performed using a scanning probe microscope that was designed by Alastair’s graduate students, Stephen Ball (MSc Eng. 2004) and Benedict Drevniok (MSc 2009) and made by Gary Contant the Physics machinist.

Promising initial research results led to a successful Chemistry/Chem. Eng/Physics application to the Canadian Foundation of Innovation to acquire infrastructure that included a commercial low temperature scanning probe. This instrument allowed Alastair’s graduate students to slow down the rate that molecules move on metal surfaces, leading to a detailed atomic scale understanding of how the organic molecules, designed by Crudden’s group, self-assemble into ordered monolayers. The most recent paper arising from this collaboration, Self-Assembly of N-heterocyclic Carbenes on Au(111), was published in Nature Chemistry in June, 2021.

In addition to the students mentioned above, other Physics students have contributed to this project, including:
• Bheeshmon Thanabalasingham (MSc 2016)
• Alex Inayeh (PhD 2020)
• Ryan Groome (PhD 2021)
• Micheal Furlan (MSc in progress, who is co-supervised by Crudden and McLean, and Emmett Desroch (MSc in progress)

Students have moved on to Canadian Bank Note in Ottawa (Inayeh, Thanabalasingham), where they continue to use their skills in atomic-scale microscopy. Groome is currently a post-doctoral fellow with Crudden in Chemistry. He will also move to Canadian Bank Note in March. Ball is now a Design Engineer at KinArm, and Drevniok is with Apple Computer in Cupertino.

Link to paper in Nature Chemistry.

Link to KinArm