Chemistry research at York enters new phase

Posted on 1 November 2012

A new £9.4 million second phase of a key research building – the latest stage in a major re-development programme in the Department of Chemistry at the University of York – was opened officially on 31 October.

The second phase of the Dorothy Hodgkin building

The second phase of the building named after Nobel Laureate, Dorothy Hodgkin, includes high quality, purpose-built laboratory space for around 100 of researchers in medicinal chemistry, materials/liquid crystals, organometallic chemistry and solar energy conversion.

Underscoring York’s enduring link with one of the UK’s outstanding scientists of the 20th century, the new facilities will be opened by Professor Michael Grätzel, the Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Before opening the building, Professor Michael Grätzel gave a public lecture entitled ‘Power from the Sun, solar cells that mimic photosynthesis’.

The new facilities are the second phase of the building named after Professor Hodgkin, who completed her pioneering research on the molecular structure of insulin in York. The first phase was completed in August 2004.

It is part of a £29 million phased investment in Chemistry which will also include new undergraduate teaching laboratories, work on which is due to start next month.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Brian Cantor, said: “We take great pride in our association with Dorothy Hodgkin. This exciting research building, named after her, reflects our commitment to Chemistry in York. These excellent new facilities will help our talented researchers to continue their world-leading research and to make discoveries that make a tangible difference to society.”  

These excellent new facilities will help our talented researchers to continue their world-leading research and to make discoveries that make a tangible difference to society

Professor Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor

The head of the Department of Chemistry, Professor Richard Taylor, added: “The opening of this modern research building is the next phase in a major redevelopment of Chemistry research at York. The Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance (CHyM) will also be completed shortly and planning permission has been received for an Integrated Global Atmospheric Chemistry laboratory and a new two-storey teaching/research building which will house the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence. Exciting times for Chemistry Research at York lie ahead!”

The building is constructed on the site of the laboratory where, in her retirement in the 1970s and 1980s, Professor Hodgkin wrote up the findings of a total of more than 30 years’ research into insulin structures carried out principally in Oxford.

Professor Hodgkin, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964, visited the University of York frequently between 1976 and 1988 at the invitation of Professors Guy and Eleanor Dodson, of the Department of Chemistry, who had worked with her on insulin research at Oxford.

Professor Hodgkin, who died in 1994, was a familiar sight in the Chemistry Department’s old D block which was demolished to make way for the building which now bears her name. She lectured at York and was awarded an honorary degree by the University.

The day featured a scientific symposium including contributions from Professor Emma Raven, of the University of Leicester, and Professor Dave Haddleton, of the University of Warwick, as well as Dr John Slattery and Dr Jason Lynam, of the Department of Chemistry at York.

Notes to editors:

  • One of the UK's leading Chemistry departments – internationally recognised for teaching and research, the Department of Chemistry at York offers a diverse range of degree courses in a friendly and supportive academic community enabling our students to achieve their full potential and develop into employable graduates. More information at www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/
  • Professor Grätzel is Director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.  He pioneered the use of mesoscopic materials in energy conversion systems, in particular photovoltaic cells, lithium ion batteries and photo-electrochemical devices for the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen by sunlight.  He discovered a new type of solar cell based on dye sensitised nanocrystalline oxide films and is the author of over 900 publications, two books and inventor of more than 50 patents. He has received numerous prestigious awards, and was selected by the Scientific American as one of the 50 top researchers in the world. This year, Professor Graetzel received the Albert Einstein World Award of Science awarded every two years by the World Cultural Council for research achievements that have “brought true benefit and well-being to mankind”.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

Keep up to date

 Subscribe to news feeds

 Follow us on Twitter