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Prof Delia Haynes

Inaugural lecture:

September 30, 2021 @ 17:3018:30

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science

Adventures in crystal engineering

Crystal engineering is about making crystals that have interesting properties on purpose; that is, it involves the intentional design of functional crystals from molecular building blocks. This is done using supramolecular synthons, which are robust and predictable interactions that form between molecules. These interactions have known geometries and are used to arrange molecules in a desired pattern in a crystal in order to yield specific properties. In this presentation, crystals and crystal engineering will be introduced and explained, with a focus on the particular chemical systems that my group is interested in. Our efforts to understand and control the crystal structures of dithiadiazolyl radicals will be discussed, as well as the nature of pancake bonding and the construction of functional materials from radical building blocks. Our work on organic salts and co-crystals, with a specific focus on porous salts, will be described. Our results using mechanochemistry as a method for preparing organic materials will be considered, alongside our latest surprising work on the sublimation of salts and co-crystals. I will discuss why understanding and controlling the way molecules arrange themselves in crystals is important, and hopefully show you why I consider research in this area to be an adventure.


Short biography

Delia Haynes was born in Durban, and spent most of her school years in Pretoria. She completed her BSc in Chemistry and Genetics and her BSc Honours in Molecular Genetics at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. She then saw the light and switched back to Chemistry, completing an MPhil and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge in the UK, under the supervision of Dr Jeremy Rawson. On completion of her PhD in 2002, Delia remained at Cambridge as a postdoctoral associate with the Pfizer Institute for Pharmaceutical Materials Science, where she worked with Bill Jones and Sam Motherwell. In 2006, she returned to South Africa as a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. In 2007 she joined the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University, and has discovered that her current head of department is correct: The problem with working in Stellenbosch is that it is such a lovely place you never want to leave! Delia was a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley in 2010, and a visiting professor at the University of Lorraine in 2013 and the University of Warsaw CNBCh in 2019. She was the 2015 recipient of the Jan Boeyens medal, which is “awarded to a young South African researcher (under the age of 40 years) who has made a distinguished contribution to the utilization of crystallography and other structural methods in a holistic manner to investigate fundamental problems in nature”. She is a member of the European Crystallographic Association’s Executive Committee, chair of the Steering Committee for the African Crystallographic Association and a member of the CrystEngComm Advisory Board. Her research focuses on crystal engineering with multi-component crystals.



September 30, 2021

Organizer (event)

Amira Brown


First Year Chemistry Building, De Beer Road, Stellenbosch
1 De Beer Road
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7600 South Africa
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Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science