2013 Tabor Medal and Prize

Professor Peter Beton, University of Nottingham. For pioneering work on molecular organisation and manipulation on surfaces, particularly in relation to molecular rolling, the formation of nanoporous templates and entropically stabilised molecular tilings.

Beton is distinguished for research into the organisation and manipulation of molecules on surfaces. He has used scanning tunnelling microscopy to study the adsorption of organic molecules, with particular emphasis on the influence of non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding on ordering of molecular arrays. His demonstration, with Nottingham chemists, that a honeycomb lattice can be used as a self-assembled nanoporous template, has greatly influenced the field stimulating studies in laboratories worldwide. Beton extended this work to the formation of hydrogen-bonded templates on graphene grown by chemical vapour deposition and demonstrated the formation of more robust templates stabilised by covalent bonds. These covalent templates provide a new class of two-dimensional polymers which may be considered as graphene analogues.

Beton pioneered the use of two-dimensional nanoscale molecular arrays to study disordered systems and glasses. A key result was identifying a molecular array which can be mapped onto a random rhombus tiling, realising experimentally a system which had been studied theoretically for over 40 years, providing an example of entropically-stabilised structures. This system has now been used to template the reversible growth of a multilayer self-assembled system. In a recent collaboration with Oxford chemists the lengths, flexibility and stacking of cyclic porphyrin polymers has been studied, demonstrating a link between supramolecular organisation and mechanical stiffening.