School Seminar: Prof. Penny Brothers, Australian National University – School of Chemistry School Seminar: Prof. Penny Brothers, Australian National University – School of Chemistry

School Seminar: Prof. Penny Brothers, Australian National University

Friday, 26 May 11:00am – 12:00pm

This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online (Zoom) Please email for zoom link and password.

Speaker: Prof. Penny Brothers, Australian National University

Host: Prof. Liz New

Title: The chemistry of boron with pyrrole ligands: tales from the world of porphyrins, corroles, phthalocyanines and BODIPY

Abstract: Porphyrins stand out as ligands which can coordinate an extraordinary number of elements. Most adopt the conventional coordination modes in which the element resides in the N4 hole of the ligand, the quintessential example being iron porphyrin in hemoglobin. However, the small, light element boron stands out by being different – two borons can coordinate in the hole as in the FBOBF porphyrin and corrole shown in Fig. 1. We have studied this chemistry extensively with a range of ligands from the tetrapyrrole family and observe unusual chemistry for both boron and the ligand.  For example, a boron corrole contains a Ph-B-H-B-Ph group threaded through the N4 hole (Fig. 2).

More recently, we have used our experience manipulating the chemistry of boron in pyrrole ligands to investigate new applications of the highly fluorescent BODIPY (which can be imagined as half of a diboron porphyrin).  As an example we have explored the direct connection of O-BODIPY to carbohydrates through B-O-C links and have produced examples of BODIPY saccharide complexes, shown in cartoon form in Fig. 3.2  We have also incorporated BODIPY into a cobalt cobaloxime complex to investigate photocatalytic hydrogen production.

Fig 1.


Fig. 2   

Fig 3          

Bio: Professor Penny Brothers is a New Zealander educated at the University of Auckland and Stanford University.  She joined the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University in early 2019.  Prior to that she was in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland since 1988 and has been a visiting professor at the Universities of California at Davis and at Berkeley, the Heidelberg, Münster, Burgundy, Peking University, the Arctic University of Norway and Los Alamos National Laboratory (as a Fulbright Senior Scholar). She was a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Nanomaterials (NZ), and an Associate Editor of Chemical Communications and is currently on the Marsden Fund Council (NZ).  She served as President of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry in 2017. She is currently investigating the chemistry of boron coordinated to porphyrin and corrole ligands, BODIPY fluorophores for sugar recognition and surface patterning using molecular pentagons.


May 26 2023


11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4
Level 2, School of Chemistry

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