Portrait of Professor Craig Rice Professor Craig Rice

c.r.rice@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473759


I specialise in metallo-supramolecular chemistry, in particular the synthesis of functional complexes. This work has been recognised through invited lectures, highly cited papers and recently (2007) a cover illustration for Dalton Transactions and has resulted in 54 publications in this and other areas. I have developed the first molecular "reprogrammable" system for potential use in sensors and as metal-specific ligands, and demonstrating metal-metal communication. I received an "internationally leading" rating on my EPSRC First Grant. I collaborate with Prof. D.R. Brown (UoH), Dr A.P. Laws (UoH) and the University School of Health (lithium sensors). I work with the Universities of Bristol (Dr J.C. Jeffery) and Geneva (Dr T. Riis-Johannessen) for structural studies, and Cardiff (Dr S.J.A Pope) on luminescent supramolecular sensors. In light of this success the Department has recently procured as Bruker Apex Duo single-crystal X-ray Diffractometer.

I recently co-organised the RSC Dalton Regional conference for Inorganic Chemistry (with Dr L.J. Gillie) hosted at the University of Huddersfield.

Research and Scholarship

My main research expertise is in the synthesis of poly-dentate aromatic ligands and their application for assembly of functional supramolecular complexes. A total of 43 papers has been published in this and related areas of chemistry. My current research projects include:

Re-Programmable Molecular Systems
The aim of this research is to control the assembly of supramolecular species via allosteric interactions. For example, a system has been designed and synthesized whose coordination mode changes in the presence of Ba2+. Thus a dinuclear double helicate complex is formed with Hg(II) (i.e. [Hg2(L)2]4+) but in the presence of Ba2+ a mononuclear complex is formed (i.e. [Hg(L)Ba]4+). This is a very significant advance in the area of supramolecular chemistry, with implications in many areas, from increasing the fundamental understanding of biological processes to materials chemistry. Preliminary communications on this work have been published (see Angew. Chem. 2004; Chem. Commun. 2005). This novel area of reprogrammable systems and use in areas such as optical sensors, metal specific ligands and controlling metal-metal communication are showing great promise (see Angew. Chem. 2005).

Ditopic Cryptate-Containing Sensors
A series of cryptates, containing N- and O- donor exo-binding binding domains, has been synthesized to produce sensors capable of sensing s- and d-block metal ions. For example, a europium cryptate derivative has been prepared which contains an exo-crown ether unit. It is hoped that upon coordination of s-block metal ions to the crown ether will significantly modulate the emission properties of the f-block metal ion (in collaboration with Dr S. Faulkner, Univ. Manchester). Furthermore, progress has been made in the preparation of a similar system which contains a [Ru(bipy)2]2+ fragment bound to a cryptate; such a system will allow detection and measurement of Na+ ions in aqueous media. The stability of these systems makes them attractive for in vitro measurement of biologically important metal ions.

Member of Materials and Catalysis Research Centre

Postdoctoral Research Assistants

  • Dr Zuotao Zeng (GR/R99508/01)

Past PhD Students

  • Dr Christian Baylies (external Prof. E.C. Constable, University Basel)
  • Dr Georgios Bokolinies (external Dr C.A. Russell, University Bristol)
  • Dr Ryan Moon (external Prof. P. Gale, University Southampton)
  • Dr T. Riis-Johannessen (co-supervised with Dr J. Jeffery University Bristol. External Prof. P.D. Beer, University Oxford)
  • Dr Hayley Clayton (thesis accepted, waiting for completion of minor corrections. External Dr S.J. Pope, University of Cardiff)

Esteem Indicators

Invited Review Article:

  • Coordination Chemistry Reviews 250 (2006) 3190-99.

Invited Lectures:

  • Southampton (2005);
  • Sheffield (2005);
  • Manchester (2005);
  • Bristol (2004);
  • UK Macrocycles and Supramolecular Chem Meetings (Newcastle 2005 and Sheffield 2005).

Conferences Organised:

Current Research Students

  • Ms C.E. Felton
  • Ms M. Whitehead
  • Ms Ruth Adams (second supervisor with Dr L.J. Gillie)

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Bullock, S., Davidson, F., Faulkner, R., Parkes, G., Rice, C. and Towns-Andrews, E. (2017) ‘Control of metallo-supramolecular assemblies via steric, hydrogen bonding and argentophilic interactions; formation of a 3-dimensional polymer of circular helicatesCrystEngComm , 19 (9), pp. 1273-1278. ISSN 1466-8033

Abdulla, O., Clayton, A., Faulkner, R., Gill, D., Rice, C., Walton, S. and Sweeney, J. (2017) ‘Catalytic sp3 -sp3 Functionalisation of Sulfonamides: Late-Stage Modification of Drug-Like MoleculesChemistry - A European Journal , 23 (7), pp. 1494-1497. ISSN 0947-6539


Adams, K., Ball, A., Birkett, J., Brown, L., Chappell, B., Gill, D., Lo, P., Patmore, N., Rice, C., Ryan, J., Raubo, P. and Sweeney, J. (2016) ‘An iron-catalysed C–C bond-forming spirocyclization cascade providing sustainable access to new 3D heterocyclic frameworksNature Chemistry , 9 (4), pp. 396-401. ISSN 1755-4330

Scattergood, P., Ross, D., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2016) ‘Labilizing the Photoinert: Extraordinarily Facile Photochemical Ligand Ejection in an [Os(N^N)3]2+ComplexAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 55 (36), pp. 10697-10701. ISSN 1433-7851

Scattergood, P., Khushnood, U., Tariq, A., Cooke, D., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2016) ‘Photochemistry of [Ru(pytz)(btz)2]2+and Characterization of a ?1-btz Ligand-Loss IntermediateInorganic Chemistry , 55 (15), pp. 7787-7796. ISSN 0020-1669

Hemming, K., Blackburn, J., Molyneux, G., Pitard, A., Rice, C., Page, M., Afshinjavid, S., Javid, F., Coles, S. and Horton, P. (2016) ‘Synthesis, Conformation and Antiproliferative Activity of Isothiazoloisoxazole 1,1-dioxidesOrganic and Biomolecular Chemistry , 14, pp. 2134-2144. ISSN 1477-0539


Faulkner, R., Harding, L., Higginson, J., Rice, C. and Slater, C. (2014) ‘Formation of a Dimer of Trinuclear Helicates which Encapsulates an Array of Six Hydrogen-Bonded AnionsAngewandte Chemie International Edition . ISSN 14337851

Aiken, S., Booth, K., Gabbutt, C., Heron, B., Rice, C., Charaf-Eddin, A. and Jacquemin, D. (2014) ‘The first structural and spectroscopic characterisation of a ring-opened form of a 2H-naphtho[1,2-b]pyran: a novel photomerocyanineChemical Communications , 50 (58), pp. 7900-7903. ISSN 1359-7345

Welby, C., Armitage, G., Bartley, H., Wilkinson, A., Sinopoli, A., Uppal, B., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2014) ‘Photochemistry of RuII4,4?-Bi-1,2,3-triazolyl (btz) Complexes: Crystallographic Characterization of the Photoreactive Ligand-Loss Intermediatetrans-[Ru(bpy)(?2-btz)(?1-btz)(NCMe)]2+Chemistry - A European Journal . ISSN 0947-6539


Aiken, S., Gabbutt, C., Gillie, L., Heywood, J., Jacquemin, D., Rice, C. and Heron, B. (2013) ‘The Remarkable Hyperchromicity of Ketohydrazone Dyes and Pigment Lakes Derived from 4-Morpholino-2-naphtholEuropean Journal of Organic Chemistry , 2013 (36), pp. 8097-8107. ISSN 1434-193X

Clegg, O., Harding, L., Miller, J. and Rice, C. (2013) ‘Tricarbonylchlorido(6'7'-dihydro-5’H-spiro[cyclopentane-1,6'-dipyrido-[3,2-d:2',3'-f][1,3]diazepine]-?2N1,N11)-rhenium(I)Acta Crystallographica Section E , 69 (10), p. m526. ISSN 1600-5368

Welby, C., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2013) ‘Unambiguous Characterization of a Photoreactive Ligand-Loss IntermediateAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 52 (41), pp. 10826-10829. ISSN 1433-7851

Clegg, O., Harding, L., Miller, J. and Rice, C. (2013) ‘Tricarbonylchlorido(6’,7’-dihydro-5’H-spiro[cyclohexane-1,6’-dipyrido[3,2-d :2’,3’-f][1,3]diazepine]-?2N1,N11)rhenium(I)Acta Crystallographica Section E , 69, p. m527. ISSN 1600-5368

Cooke, D., Cross, J., Fennessy, R., Harding, L., Rice, C. and Slater, C. (2013) ‘Steric control of the formation of dinuclear double helicate and dinuclear meso-helicate assembliesChemical Communications , 49 (71), pp. 7785-7787. ISSN 1359-7345

Elliott, P., Welby, C., Rice, C., Gibson, E., Gilmartin, L., Marriott, R. and Zahid, A. (2013) ‘Luminescent biscyclometalated arylpyridine iridium(III) complexes with 4,4’-bi-1,2,3-triazolyl ancillary ligandsDalton Transactions , 42 (37), pp. 13527-13536. ISSN 14779226

Bullock, S., Harding, L., Moore, M., Mills, A., Piela, S., Rice, C., Towns-Andrews, E. and Whitehead, M. (2013) ‘Synthesis of Ligands Containing N-oxide Donor Atoms and Their Assembly into Metallosupramolecular Structures.Dalton Transactions . ISSN 1477-9226


Welby, C., Grkinic, S., Zahid, A., Uppal, B., Gibson, E., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2012) ‘Synthesis, characterisation and theoretical study of ruthenium 4,4?-bi-1,2,3-triazolyl complexes: fundamental switching of the nature of S1 and T1 states from MLCT to MCDalton Transactions , 41 (25), pp. 7637-7646. ISSN 1477-9226

Cox, N., Harding, L., Jones, J., Pope, S., Rice, C. and Adams, H. (2012) ‘Probing solution behaviour of metallosupramolecular complexes using pyrene fluorescenceDalton Transactions , 41 (5), pp. 1568-1573. ISSN 14779226

Sutton, C., Harding, L., Hardie, M., Riis-Johannessen, T. and Rice, C. (2012) ‘Allosteric Effects in a Ditopic Ligand Containing Bipyridine and Tetra-aza-crown Donor UnitsChemistry - A European Journal , 18 (12), pp. 3464-3467. ISSN 0947-6539

Hemming, K., Khan, M., Kondakal, V., Rice, C., Pitard, A. and Qamar, M. (2012) ‘Pyridines from azabicyclo[3.2.0]hept-2-en-4-ones through a proposed azacyclopentadienoneOrganic Letters , 14 (1), pp. 126-129. ISSN 15237060


Clegg, O., Fennessy, R., Harding, L., Rice, C., Riis-Johannessen, T. and Fletcher, N. (2011) ‘Diastereoselective assembly of pentanuclear circular helicatesDalton Transactions , 40 (45), pp. 12381-12387. ISSN 1477-9226

Uppal, B., Booth, R., Ali, N., Lockwood, C., Rice, C. and Elliott, P. (2011) ‘Synthesis and characterisation of luminescent rhenium tricarbonyl complexes with axially coordinated 1,2,3-triazole ligandsDalton Transactions , 40 (29), pp. 7610-7616. ISSN 1477-9226


Allen, K., Faulkner, R., Harding, L., Rice, C., Riis-Johannessen, T., Voss, M. and Whitehead, M. (2010) ‘Head-To-Tail and Heteroleptic Pentanuclear Circular HelicatesAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 49 (37), pp. 6655-6658. ISSN 1433-7851

Bain, L., Bullock, S., Harding, L., Riis-Johannessen, T., Midgley, G., Rice, C. and Whitehead, M. (2010) ‘Controlling the formation of metallosupramolecular assemblies by metal ionic radiiChemical Communications , 46 (20), pp. 3496-3498. ISSN 1359-7345


Bullock, S., Felton, C., Fennessy, R., Harding, L., Andrews, M., Pope, S., Rice, C. and Riis-Johannessen, T. (2009) ‘Coumarin-based luminescent ligand that forms helicates with dicationic metal ionsDalton Transactions , 47, pp. 10570-10573. ISSN 14779226

Bullock, S., Gillie, L., Harding, L., Rice, C., Riis-Johannessen, T. and Whitehead, M. (2009) ‘Isomeric pyridyl-thiazole donor units for metal ion recognition in bi- and tri-metallic helicatesChemical Communications , 2009 (32), pp. 4856-4858. ISSN 1359-7345


Felton, C., Harding, L., Jones, J., Kariuki, B., Pope, S. and Rice, C. (2008) ‘A wavelength and lifetime responsive cryptate-containing fluorescent probe for zinc ions in waterChemical Communications (46), pp. 6185-6187. ISSN 1359-7345

Clayton, H., Harding, L., Irvine, J., Jeffery, J., Riis-Johannessen, T., Laws, A., Rice, C. and Whitehead, M. (2008) ‘Metal-specific allosteric activation and deactivation of a diamineChemical Communications (1), p. 108. ISSN 1364-548X

Bokolinis, G., Riis-Johannessen, T., Jeffery, J. and Rice, C. (2008) ‘Synthesis and X-ray structures of cadmium-containing dinuclear double helicates derived from ligands containing N-oxide unitsNew Journal of Chemistry , 32 (1), pp. 115-119. ISSN 11440546


Riis-Johannessen, T., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Moon, R. and Rice, C. (2007) ‘Allosteric deprogramming of a trinuclear heterometallic helicateDalton Transactions (16), pp. 1577-1587. ISSN 14779226

Jeffery, J., Rice, C., Harding, L., Baylies, C. and Riis-Johannessen, T. (2007) ‘Ligand Reprogramming in Dinuclear Helicate Complexes: A Consequence of Allosteric or Electrostatic Effects?Chemistry - A European Journal , 13 (18), pp. 5256-5271. ISSN 09476539

Jeffery, J., Riis-Johannessen, T., Anderson, C., Adams, C., Robinson, A., Argent, S., Ward, M. and Rice, C. (2007) ‘Localization and Delocalization in a Mixed-Valence Dicopper HelicateInorganic Chemistry , 46 (7), pp. 2417-2426. ISSN 00201669

Baylies, C., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Moon, R., Rice, C. and Riis-Johannessen, T. (2007) ‘Electrostatic control of the formation of heteroleptic transition metal helicatesNew Journal of Chemistry , 31 (8), pp. 1525-1529. ISSN 11440546


Rice, C (2006) ‘Metal-assembled anion receptorsCoordination Chemistry Reviews , 250 (23-24), pp. 3190-3199. ISSN 0010-8545

Coldwell, J., Felton, C., Harding, L., Moon, R., Pope, S. and Rice, C. (2006) ‘Barium induced modulation of NIR emission in a neodymium cryptate complexChemical Communications , 2006, pp. 5048-5050. ISSN 1364-548X

Bokolinis, G., Riis-Johannessen, T., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., McLay, N. and Rice, C. (2006) ‘This facile interconversion of dinuclear double helicates and side-by-side species: a reprogrammable ligand with potential sensor applicationsChemical Communications , pp. 1980-1982. ISSN 1364-548X


Riis-Johannessen, T., Jeffery, J., Robson, A., Rice, C. and Harding, L. (2005) ‘Solution and solid-state complexes of the potentially tetradentate pyridyl-thiazole ligand 6,6?-bis(4-methylthiazol-2-yl)-2,2?-bipyridine with Co, Ni, Cu, Cd, Hg, Cu and AgInorganica Chimica Acta , 358 (9), pp. 2781-2798. ISSN 0020-1693

Baylies, C., Jeffery, J., Miller, T., Moon, R., Rice, C. and Riis-Johannessen, T. (2005) ‘Allosteric pitch length tuning of a dinuclear double helicateChemical Communications , pp. 4158-4160. ISSN 1364-548X

Baylies, C., Riis-Johannessen, T., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Moon, R., Rice, C. and Whitehead, M. (2005) ‘Allosteric-Controlled Metal Specificity of a Ditopic LigandAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 44 (42), pp. 6909-6912. ISSN 1433-7851


Baylies, C., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Riis-Johannessen, T. and Rice, C. (2004) ‘Allosteric and electrostatic reprogramming of a ditopic ligandAngewandte Chemie International Edition , 43 (34), pp. 4515-4518. ISSN 14337851

Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Riis-Johannessen, T., Rice, C. and Zeng, Z. (2004) ‘Anion control of ligand self-recognition in a triple helical arrayChemical Communications (6), pp. 654-655. ISSN 1364-548X

Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Riis-Johannessen, T., Rice, C. and Zeng, Z. (2004) ‘Anion control of the formation of geometric isomers in a triple helical arrayDalton Transactions (16), pp. 2396-2397. ISSN 14779226


Rice, C., Baylies, C., Harding, L., Jeffery, J., Paul, R. and Ward`, M. (2003) ‘Cadmium-containing pyridyl–thiazole complexes: crystal structures and solution behaviour of mononuclear, dinuclear double helicate and dinuclear triple helicate complexesPolyhedron , 22 (5), pp. 755-762. ISSN 02775387

Rice, C., Baylies, C., Clayton, H., Jeffery, J., Paul, R. and Ward, M. (2003) ‘Novel multidentate pyridyl/thiazolyl ligands containing terpyridine units: formation of dinuclear and trinuclear double helicate complexes.Inorganica Chimica Acta , 351, pp. 207-216. ISSN 00201693


Rice, C., Onions, S., Vidal, N., Wallis, J., Senna, M., Pilkington, M. and Stoeckli-Evans, H. (2002) ‘The Coordination Chemistry of 3,3?-Diamino-2,2?-bipyridine and Its Dication: Exploring the Role of the Amino Groups by X-ray CrystallographyEuropean Journal of Inorganic Chemistry , 2002 (8), pp. 1985-1997. ISSN 1434-1948


Rice, C., Baylies, C., Harding, L., Jeffery, J. and Paul, R. (2001) ‘Pyridyl-thiazole multidentate ligands: metal-specific recognition of a combination of ligands from a mixtureJournal of the Chemical Society Dalton Transactions (20), pp. 3039-3044. ISSN 1472-7773

Rice, C., Worl, S., Jeffery, J., Paul, R. and Ward, M. (2001) ‘New multidentate ligands for supramolecular coordination chemistry: double and triple helical complexes of ligands containing pyridyl and thiazolyl donor unitsJournal of the Chemical Society Dalton Transactions (5), pp. 550-559. ISSN 14727773

Rice, C., Guerrero, A., Bell, Z., Paul, R., Motson, G., Jeffery, J. and Ward, M. (2001) ‘New hybrid ditopic ligands containing fused phenanthroline and crown ether unitsNew Journal of Chemistry , 25 (2), pp. 185-187. ISSN 11440546

Pope, S., Rice, C., Ward, M., Morales, A., Accorsi, G., Armaroli, N. and Barigelletti, F. (2001) ‘Folding of a poly(oxyethylene) chain as probed by photoinduced energy transfer between Ru– and Os–polypyridine terminiJournal of the Chemical Society Dalton Transactions (15), pp. 2228-2231. ISSN 14727773


Rice, C., Ward, M., Nazeeruddin, M. and Gratzel, M. (2000) ‘Catechol as an efficient anchoring group for attachment of ruthenium–polypyridine photosensitisers to solar cells based on nanocrystalline TiO2 filmsNew Journal of Chemistry , 24 (9), pp. 651-652. ISSN 11440546

Norman, N., Orpen, A., Quayle, M. and Rice, C. (2000) ‘Diborane(4) compounds incorporating thio- and seleno-carboranyl groupsNew Journal of Chemistry , 24 (11), pp. 837-839. ISSN 11440546

Rice, C., Worl, S., Jeffery, J., Paul, R. and Ward, M. (2000) ‘Pyridyl-thiazoles as a new class of ligand for metallosupramolecular chemistry: formation of double and triple helicates with Cu(ii)Chemical Communications (16), pp. 1529-1530. ISSN 1364-548X

Research Degree Supervision

Re(I)-Containing Sensors for the Detection of Amino Acids

This proposal is concerned with the synthesis and characterisation of a number of Re(I)-containing species capable of specific detection of amino acids in biological media. Although amino acids are present within the human body large excesses of these compounds can have deleterious affects (e.g. increased levels of phenylalanine is caused by the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU)). Early detection of this disease is essential so that treatment can be established. As early diagnosis is required for successful treatment every newborn in both Western Europe and North America is tested for this disorder. Although there are tests, current detection methods are either lengthy (such as the Guthrie test which uses bacterial growth) or use expensive and delicate machinery (tandem mass spectrometry).
This PhD programme involves the synthesis of Re(I)-containing complexes which will bind amino acids (via a tritopic coreceptor) and in doing so the luminescent properties will be modulated. Luminescent species are relatively easy to detect and can be detected even at very low concentrations. Furthermore the instrumentation required to this can be made small, portable and robust. This work will hopefully advance the detection of amino acids and go some way to the construction of portable, inexpensive and easy to use detectors for amino acids.

Synthesis of Transition Metal Complexes for the Therapeutic Monitoring of Lithium Ions.

Lithium is important for the management of treatment resistant depression. However, the body is particularly sensitive to high serum levels of lithium and lithium intoxication occurs at approximately 1.3 mmol/l and is characterised by vomiting, diarrhoea, tremor, cognitive impairment and agitation. At higher levels (2-3 mmol/l) severe confusion, convulsions, coma and death can occur quickly and at these levels lithium intoxication is a medical emergency and is easily confused with alcohol (ethanol) intoxication and missed. Current tests for lithium require large and complicated equipment which are expensive and time consuming to use and don’t meet the needs of patients in a modern NHS. What is needed is a quick and accurate test for this drug, which can be used either in the patients’ homes or in emergency settings such as A&E departments. This project involves the synthesis of transition metal complexes that are able to detect lithium ions at low concentrations in aqueous media.

The Formation of Anion Receptor Cavities from the Self-Assembly of Dinuclear Triple Helicates.

The ability of some multidenate ligands, upon reaction with transition metals, to self-assemble into double and triple stranded helicates has been known for some time. This project exploits the ability of pyridyl-thiazole ligands to form dinuclear triple helicates upon complexation to suitable transition metal ions. Incorporation of substituents onto these ligands will produce, upon complexation, specific cavities. These cavities can be tailored to form receptors for specific molecules such as anions, cations and electron-poor/electron-rich compounds and the selectivity of the host-guest interaction measured.
Synthesis of cavities is an important area of chemistry due to their ability to be host specific; this has important implications especially in the area of sensors

Synthesis of Potential Allosteric Sensors

The detection of "s block" metals (e.g. sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium etc) in the environment, chemical processes and the human body is of great importance. The usual methods for detection of these chemicals are often difficult and require both lengthy procedures and expensive equipment.
This PhD programme is concerned with the synthesis and characterisation of transition metal complexes that are capable of sensing biologically, industrially and environmentally important metals. These complexes will "sense" by colorimetry i.e. in the presence of the required metal the compounds will change colour dramatically and thus they can be detected by the naked eye.