Professor Michl's group works in physical organic chemistry, a combination of synthesis of organic and organometallic (both main group and transition metal) compounds with an investigation of their properties by physical, mechanistic, and computational methods. This ranges from photochemical reactions to nanoscience. In addition to his group in Boulder, Professor Michl has a research group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic, and many group members spend some time in each place. Some of the research themes are similar (molecular rotors), others are different (alkylation of gold surface; see
The areas of most interest at this time are (i) Photochemistry and photophysics of singlet fission for higher efficiency solar cells, (ii) Electron and ion conducting compounds and polymers of new types, (iii) Surface-mounted molecular rotors and molecular circuits based on organic, organometallic, and inorganic structures, synthesized covalently or by self-assembly, and intended for use in nanoelectronics, nanofluidics, and optical metamaterials, (iv) "Naked" lithium cation catalyzed reactions, especially to radical polymerization of alkenes, alkynes, and alkadienes, (v) Novel structures based on boron, silicon, fluorine, and lithium chemistry that support activities in areas (i) - (iv), (vi) Theoretical chemistry applications in support of activities in areas (i) - (iv), both in molecular structure theory and in molecular dynamics.
In non traditional molecular electronics we are exploiting the concept of dipolar molecular rotors mounted on surfaces and driven by rotating electric field or by fluid flow. In an attempt to position such rotors in a regular two dimensional pattern, we are developing synthetic approaches to molecules that look like a tennis net or chicken wire.
The new carborane and related structures involve some of the strongest acids and strongest oxidants known. We are attempting to prepare bulk species otherwise known only in the gas phase. This is very fundamental science but it also has some immediate applications for polymer lithium battery electrolytes and fuel cell membranes.