Malcolm Chisholm

Malcolm Chisholm
Malcolm Chisholm
Distinguished University Professor
Divisional Affiliation: Inorganic, Materials
Office: NA
Phone: NA
Email: Chisholm


[Dr. Chisholm passed away after a long illness on November 20, 2015.]

Malcolm H. Chisholm (London University, B.Sc. 1966; Ph.D., 1969;) taught at Princeton and Indiana Universities prior to coming to The Ohio State University in 2000, where he is currently Distinguished University Professor, Departmental Chair and Associate Director of the Institute for Materials Research. He is a fellow of the Royal Society (London), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Die Deutche Akademie-Leopoldina and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Recently he received the Basolo Medal of Northwestern University, the Bailar Medal of the University of Illinois, and the Nyholm Medal and Prize of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Research Overview

Molecular and Materials Chemistry, Metal-Metal Multiple Bonds, Organometallic Chemistry

Research in our group currently encompasses many of the elements of the periodic table. We are currently investigating a large number of research projects that are attempting to address topical, but yet fundamental problems in the fields of inorganic, organometallic and materials chemistry. These projects can be separated into several general areas:

  • M-M Multiple Bonding and Molecular Electronics. M-M multiple bonds can be viewed as inorganic functional groups. The development of the chemistry of such dinuclear complexes is at the forefront of our research due to their rich reactivities and potential catalytic applications. For example, we are currently studying the properties of covalently linked assemblies of M2 units which are redox active and can exist in more than one metastable state. These systems can be electronically tuned to show signaling and switching behavior and electro-, thermo- and solvatochromism.
  • Metallo-Organic Polymers and Liquid Crystals. Organic polymers and liquid crystals find innumerable applications in our daily life. We are currently exploring the introduction of metal ions into organic polymers and liquid crystals with the intent of making new “smart” materials. The metal ions may be present as guests within the organic architecture or they may act as the engineers of the structural motif. Particular attention is being given to the use of metal ions with unusual optical or magnetic properties.
  • Polymers from Renewable Resources. Currently the majority of commercial polymers are derived from petroleum but there is good reason to believe that polymers formed from renewable resources will find an increasingly important market place. For example, polylactide is a biodegradable and biocompatible polymer that currently finds applications as a packaging material and in specialty areas of medicine such as time-release drug delivery and stints and sutures. Ring opening polymerization of lactide and related cyclic esters provides an efficient route to these types of polymers employing single-site metal alkoxide catalyst systems. Our work here involves catalyst development with metals such as Ca, Mg, Zn and Al. Similarly, we are interested in developing single-site metal alkoxide catalysts for the alternating co-polymerization of epoxides (oxiranes) and carbon dioxide to give polycarbonates thus providing a use for the abundant and cheap green house gas, CO2, and at the same time displacing the use of noxious phosgene or its derivate.

Within these topics there are great opportunities for creative synthetic endeavors in conjunction with mechanistic and theoretical studies as well as a need for the utilization of a wide range of physical methods in the characterization of molecules and materials. Members of my group enter into collaborative research with others both within and outside of the Department. Federal Support for our research comes primarily from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, Basic Chemical Science Division.

Recent members of the Chisholm group now hold faculty positions at Penn State, Bath University, Sheffield University, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Harding University, Temple University; research positions in the national labs at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Savannah as well as industrial research positions at Lubrizol, Johnson and Johnson and Bayer.

Malcolm Chisholm will be taking on graduate students and welcomes inquiries regarding all openings in his group.


Electron Delocalization in the S1 and T1 Metal-to-Ligand Charge Transfer States of Trans-Substituted Metal Quadruply Bonded Complexes. PNAS (USA) (2011), 108, 8152-8156.

M2δ to Ligand π-Conjugation: Testbeds for Current Theories of Mixed Valence in Ground and Photoexcited States of Molecular Systems. Chem. Soc. Rev. (2011), 40, 5254-5265.

Chemistry of Magnesium Alkyls Supported by 1,5,9-trimesityldipyrromethene and 2-[(2,6-diisopropylphenyl)amino]-4-[(2,6-diisopropylphenyl)imino]pent-2-ene. A Comparative Study. Chemical Science, (2012), 3, 3445-3457.

Electronic Structure and Excited-State Dynamics of the Molecular Triads: trans-M2(TiPB)2[O2CC6H5-η6-Cr(CO)3]2, Where M = Mo or W, and TiPB = 2,4,6-triisopropylbenzoate. J. Am. Chem. Soc., (2012), 134, 20820-20826.

Molecular Dynamics and Ligand Exchange in Magnesium Complexes: Evidence for both Dissociative and Associative Ligand Exchange. Angewandte Chemie, (2013), 52, 3264-3266.

Photophysical Properties of MM Quadruply Bonded Complexes Supported by Carboxylate Ligands, MM = Mo2, MoW, or W2, Acc. Chem. Res., (2013), 46, 529-538.

Ring-Opening Polymerization Reactions of Propylene OxideRing-Opening Polymerization Reactions of Propylene Oxide Catalyzed by Porphyrin Metal (3+) Complexes of Aluminum, Chromium and Cobalt, Chemical Record, (2013), 13, 549-560.