My research interests are centred on the synthesis, structure, and applications of:
- Lewis acidity and organoborates/organosilicates
- Polyborate systems
- Main group and transition-metal co-ordination/organometallic compounds.
Synthetic laboratory work uses standard techniques for the manipulation of oxygen-sensitive and water-sensitive materials (Schlenk lines, dry-box) and molecular species are routinely characterised by elemental analysis, mass spectrometry, and spectroscopic (multi-element NMR, IR) techniques. Borate/silicate research is usually undertaken in aqueous solvents in air, and so are much more easily manipulated. Solid state materials are studied by MAS NMR spectroscopy and by single-crystal XRD, powder XRD, TGSA/DSC and BET analysis. Several novel isolated polyborate species have been discovered as a result of crystal engineering and cation templated self-assembly from aqueous solution.
Potential applications additives for fire-retardant materials, new polymeric materials, and molecular precursors to porous materials for use as H2 storage materials. Silicates are being investigated as agricultural biostimulants e.g potato crops.
4 Highly Cited Publications
A convenient NMR method for the measurement of Lewis acidity at boron centres: correlation of reaction rates of Lewis acid initiated epoxide polymerizations with Lewis acidity, M.A. Beckett, G.C. Strickland, J.R. Holland, and K.S. Varma, Polymer, 1996, 37, 4629-4631. [115 citations].
Lewis acidity of tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane: crystal and molecular structure of B(C6F5)3.OPEt3, M.A. Beckett, D.S. Brassington, S.J. Coles, and M.B. Hursthouse, Inorg. Chem. Commun., 2000, 3, 530-533. [99 citations].
Amine adducts of triarylboroxines: synthesis and characterization of adducts of tri(2-tolyl)boroxine and crystal structures of (4-MeC6H4)3B3O3 and (4-MeC6H4)3B3O3.4-picoline, M.A. Beckett, G.C. Strickland, K.S. Varma, D.E. Hibbs, M.K.A. Malik, and M.B. Hursthouse, J. Organomet. Chem., 1997, 535, 33-41. [61 citations].
Organophosphoryl adducts of tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane; crystal and molecular structure of B(C6F5)3.Ph3PO, M.A. Beckett, D.S. Brassington, M.E. Light, and M.B. Hursthouse, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans., 2001, 1768-1772. [56 citations].
Citation data Web of Science (all data bases), 26th March 2019.
Specific areas of current interest:
1. Borates and silicates as Agricultural biostimulants
Boron and/or silicon can act as biostimulants in agriculture crops. The boron and/or silicon has to be bioavailable and methods using plant extracts etc in the formulation of agricultural feeds, to enhance bioavailablity, is being investigated.
2. Transition-metal complexes as cations in polyborate chemistry
The synthesis and characterization of polyborate salts containing cationic transition-metal complexes is being investigated. Transition-metal coordination compounds as cations have been chosen because of their steric bulk, high charge, and their abilty to form many H-bonds donor interactions with groups in their second coordination shell. The aim of this work is to investigate their structure directing effects and to engineer novel polyborate anions.
3. Lewis acidity measurement
Organoborates are being studied as potential Lewis acid catalysts, and 31P NMR spectroscopy is being used to measure the Lewis acidity of the organoborate species. This technique uses Et3PO as a probe molecule, and reports Gutmann's AN numbers. This Lewis acidity measurement method is often referred to in the chemical literature as the 'Gutmann-Beckett method'.
4. Porous materials from NMC pentaborates
The synthesis and characterization of a series of organic cation (i.e non-metal cation, NMC) containing ionic borate species is being investigated with the aim of exploring their solid-state structures and investigating structure directing effects through cation-anion interactions. The synthesis and characterization of supramolecular pentaborate materials with well-defined channels and pores are being explored, as potential sorbents, catalysts, ion exchangers, and materials for H2 storage.
5. Zwitterionic and cationic borate/hydroxyborate anions
Borate anions are found in nature combined with various metal cations as minerals with in a fantastic diversity of solid-state borate anion structures. Condensation of hydroxyl ammonium cations with borate to form zwitterionic (or even cationic) species and the structure directing are being examined.
6. 11B NMR analysis of borates in non-aqueous solution
11B NMR spectra of aqueous polyborates are complex and difficult to interpret with regards exact speciation present. Non-aqueous solutions of NMC polyborates and alkali-metal (with the use of crown ethers) tetraborates in non-aqueous solution are being prepared, and their spectra are being analysed by 11B NMR spectroscopy. This should help to explain and understand spectra obtained of polyborates in aqueous solutions.
7. Computational studies
The structures of isolated polyborate anions are being investigated in the gas-phase by DFT calculations and QTAIM analysis. This is being extended to condensed phases with work on solvation and solid-state H-bonding interactions. This is a collaborative project with Dr R.A. Davies.
8. Environmental analysis
An ongoing research project has been to measure boron concentrations in the local freshwater and marine environment - data is now available over the previous 10 years, with concentrations constant.
There is a well-developed link with Pilkington’s European Technical Centre, Lathom, UK. The link is with the building products fire-glazing section, and collaborative research has investigated potential new coating and interlayer materials for fire-resistant laminated glass applications. Informal discussions and collaborations concerning borate research have been made with Rio-Tinto Minerals (Borax, USA), Johnson Matthey (UK), and Dow Corning (UK). An ongoing academic link has been made with Prof B. Karan at Hacettepe University (Chemistry Department) Ankara, Turkey, which has resulted in a Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council funded post-doctoral fellowship to the UK.
telephone: 01248 382378
Professor Mike Beckett is a Professor of Inorganic Chemistry within the School of Natural Sciences and he specialises is synthesizing new chemicals containing boron or silicon. These chemicals may be used in formulations of agricultural micronutrients / biostimulants and as precursors to new materials. He has published >125 articles and has co-written a text book ('Periodic Table at a Glance', Wiley, 2006). Mike Beckett is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (CChem FRSC) and the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). He is a Titular Member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in the Division involved with Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation and is leading a task group on nomenclature of boron hydride systems. He is also a member of the international advisory committees of the ‘International conference on boron chemistry’ (Imeboron) and the ‘European conference on boron chemistry’ (Euroboron).
Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Chartered Chemist (1997) CChem, FRSC.
Fellow Higher Education Academy (1998) FHEA.
Subject Specialist Reviewer (Chemistry), Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) 2003-2004.
Appointed member of Commitee for Accrediation and Validation (CAV) for RSC 2005-2011; Vice-Chair 2010-2011.
Member of Membership and Quailfications Board (MQB) for RSC 2012-2015.
Vice-Chair Local Section (North Wales) for RSC 2011-14; Chair, 2014 -2017; member 2017-.
Member of International Advisory Committee, European Conference on boron Chemistry (Euroboron), 2012-.
Member of International Advisory Committee, International meeting on boron chemistry (Imeboron) 2013-.
Task Group Chair - Nomenclature of boron hydrides and related compounds - International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), 2013-.
Elected Titular Member (Division VIII), International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), 1 Jan 2018 - 31 Dec 2019; Associate Member (Division VIII), 1 Jan 2016 - 31 Dec 2018; Titular Member 1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2015; Titular Member (Division VIII), 1 Jan 2012 - 31 Dec 2013.