Professor Mark Humphrey

BSc(Hons) PhD DSc (Adel.) DUniv (h.c.) (Rennes) CChem FRSC FRACI
College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Structural Chemistry And Spectroscopy 030606
  • Organometallic Chemistry 039904
  • Organic Chemical Synthesis 030503
  • Quantum Chemistry 030701
  • Materials Engineering 0912
  • Inorganic Chemistry 0302
  • Transition Metal Chemistry 030207
  • Optical Properties Of Materials 030303
  • Nonlinear Optics And Spectroscopy 020503


Mark Humphrey received PhD and DSc degrees from the University of Adelaide and a DUniv (h.c.) from the Université Rennes 1. He held positions at Universität Würzburg (1987-1989), the University of Illinois (1989-1990), and the University of New England (1990-1994), before being appointed to the ANU in 1994.

He has been awarded fellowships by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany, 1987), CNRS (France, 1988), Telstra (Australian Telecom) (1991), the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (1997), the Science and Technology Agency (Japan, 2001), the Royal Society of Chemistry (UK, 2002), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2009), as well as the Gritton Fellowship (University of Sydney, 1990), the inaugural RACI Organometallic Award (1998), the RACI Inorganic Award (Burrows Award) (2008), the RACI H.G. Smith Memorial Medal (2010), the RACI A.E. Leighton Memorial Medal (2017), and the David Syme Research Prize (2001), an ARC Australian Research Fellowship (1994), ARC Senior Research Fellowship (1999), and two ARC Australian Professorial Fellowships (2004, 2009), an International Distinguished Professorship (Jiangsu Province, 2011), and a Chinese Government 1000 Talents Award (2012). He has been Professeur Invité at the Université Rennes I (France) on several occasions, Visiting Professor at the KU Leuven (Belgium), and is an Honorary Professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Jiangsu University, and Jiangnan University (China) and an Endowed Professor at Tongji University (China). He was Associate Director (Research) of the RSC, ANU, a former Chair of the Inorganic Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and a former President of the ACT Branch of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, and is the Australian Director of the Australia-China Joint Research Centre for Functional Molecular Materials and a CNRS (France) International Associated Laboratory. He was a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts (2016-2018) and a member of two ARC Excellence in Research for Australia Research Evaluation Committees (2012, 2018).

He was promoted to Professor at the ANU in 2003.


Researcher's projects

Please contact Professor Humphrey for specific information on current and previous research projects.

Available student projects


The aim of our research is the preparation of new types of potentially useful molecular materials. Understanding how chemical structure can control molecular properties is the key step, and this necessitates coupling chemical synthesis to a range of physical properties studies. Four areas of interest are summarized below.

Research in the group involves organometallic, organic, coordination complex and polymer synthesis, spectroscopy, various electrochemical and spectroelectrochemical techniques, molecular modelling, electron microscopy and X-ray structural studies, and a wide range of nonlinear optical studies using high-power lasers.

Molecular Switches

The impending breakdown in Moore's Law has prompted the search for molecule-based information processing components such as molecular switches and logic gates. Molecules that can exist in two states with distinct absorbance or fluorescence behaviour have attracted considerable interest for Boolean logic operations. We are pursuing molecules that can exist in more than two states, and for which the "read-out" is via a change in nonlinear optical properties.

Pi-delocalizable Dendrimers

Dendrimers are highly branched molecules that are of interest for applications in medical diagnostics, molecular recognition, catalysis, and photoactive device engineering. We have prepared unique π-delocalizable dendrimers and are examining their electrochemical, optical, and particularly nonlinear optical (NLO) properties. Materials with NLO properties can modify the propagation characteristics of light beams (frequency, phase, path, etc) and so are important for potential applications in optical communications, data storage, and a variety of other areas, all of which are undergoing explosive growth, and in all of which chemists can make crucial contributions.

High-nuclearity Clusters

Large metal clusters are possible models for metal particles with chemisorbed species. They are also potential intermediates in size-dependent transition from molecular to bulk metallic behaviour. The major obstacle to their study is the lack of facile high-yielding syntheses. We have developed a remarkably easy route into high-nuclearity ruthenium carbonyl clusters and have been exploring their physical and chemical properties. Ligand substitution in particular is amazingly facile.

Mixed-metal Clusters

Transition metal clusters are closed polyhedral molecules that have been studied intensively for their relevance in catalysis, surface science and chemical physics. More recently, clusters have been identified as promising optical limiters, required for many technological applications including optical device and eye protection from high power lasers. We have developed high-yielding routes into clusters incorporating very different metals and are exploring their reaction chemistry, electronic and optical properties, and their incorporation into polymer backbones. This has afforded the most metal-rich polymers thus far.


Current student projects

Please contact Professor Humphrey for specific information on current student projects.

Past student projects

Please contact Professor Humphrey for specific information on past student projects.



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  13 July 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers