Correlating Electronic and Molecular Structure of f-block Complexes

Name of applicant

Nicolaj Kofod




University of Manchester, UK


DKK 900,000



Type of grant

Internationalisation Fellowships


Hidden away in the bottom of the periodic table lies the lanthanides. The chemical bonds formed by these metals are extremely labile making the chemical structures in solution hard to predict and even harder to determine. This means that much of the solution chemistry of the lanthanides is still uncharted territory. My project aims to tackle this challenge by combining high-resolution spectroscopic techniques with state-of-the-art computational methods.


Lanthanides play a crucial role in modern technology from wind turbines to radiotherapy drugs. Increasing demand has placed the lanthanides at the heart of an international supply crisis. The current bottleneck in the supply chain is caused by the challenging and highly polluting processes of separating the chemically similar lanthanides. Progress in this field is limited by the lack of a robust protocol for determining the chemical structures in solution. My project aims to address this by providing new fundamental knowledge on lanthanide solution chemistry that will potentially allow for targeted design of novel separation techniques.


High-resolution optical spectroscopy and modern techniques in paramagnetic NMR can provide detailed information on the chemical structure of lanthanide complexes in solution. The challenge lies in the interpretation of the data. In the last decade, computational techniques have matured to allow for accurate predictions of electronic and magnetic properties from molecular structure models of the complicated lanthanides. Prof. Nicholas Chilton at the University of Manchester is on the absolute forefront of this field. By combining his expertise in state-of-the-art computational methods with my background in high-resolution spectroscopy, I aim to develop a robust protocol for uniquely determining molecular structures of lanthanide complexes in solution. This will provide new fundamental knowledge on lanthanide solution chemistry that will potentially allow for the design rather than discovery of novel separation techniques.

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