Our Research and Achievements

My research and professional interests involve many aspects of inorganic and organometallic chemistry of the main group and lanthanoid elements, in particular organometallic and amido complexes. These complexes have relevance to such areas as catalysis, new materials and organic syntheses. There is a strong emphasis on synthetic methods and structural studies which involve a range of spectroscopic and structural techniques, in particular X-ray crystallography. Applied areas of research involve lanthanoid based corrosion inhibitors, rare earth imaging agents and synthesis of luminescent compounds. Much of this research involves collaborative links with colleagues both within and external to the department.

I have published in excess of 488 research publications in peer-reviewed internationally recognised journals, and in excess of 13,600 citations and an h-index of 59 (Google Scholar). I have received in excess of $14.0M in research funding from the ARC and other external funding agencies. I have presented >100  invited lectures at other institutions, >35 invited plenary and keynote talks at conferences, and in excess of 40 oral presentations at other international conferences. My students have presented in excess of 200 posters and oral presentations at domestic and international conferences.  I have graduated >40 PhD students and currently am supervising  a number of PhD students across several institutions. I have graduated in excess of 40 Honours students and have had 11 postdoctoral fellows in my group, five who have gone onto their own independent academic careers.

The rare earth elements (Sc, Y, La and the lanthanoids Ce to Lu) are currently newsworthy, and have been described as the most important resource of the 21st century. Their ubiquity in contemporary life coupled with the impact of the Chinese near monopoly of supply, vividly illustrated by their cut in exports for 2011, and their ban on exports to Japan in 2010 (“The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earths”, attributed to Deng Xiaoping) has highlighted their strategic importance to business leaders and politicians, as well as scientists. Australia has large rare earth reserves at Mt. Weld, Mt. Brockman, Nolans (Ln/U) in NT, Dubbo (zirconia/Ln) and in the Wimmera, Murray Basin, coastal mineral sands, WA Goldfields and U tailings, hence is well placed to provide a reliable source of supply. Indeed three mining companies, Lynas (Mt Weld), Arafura Resources (Nolans) and Alkane Resources (Dubbo), are well advanced towards production. Large scale uses include petroleum cracking catalysts, metallurgical reductants, light emitting chemicals in safety equipment and fluorescent tubes, decolourants and colouring agents in the glass industry, and particularly cerium oxide based supports for exhaust emission catalysts. Increasing use of rare earth alloy magnets in cars (joint magnet manufacturing is planned by Lynas/Siemens), particularly electric (hybrid) cars, and in green electricity generation has driven supply concerns with recycling now being considered. Their widespread use to promote crop production in China attests low toxicity. Clear benefits and no toxicity or environmental drawbacks have led to use in animal feed supplements in Switzerland (Lancer®, Sanocer®) and approval for use in the EU is being sought.  Applications in organic synthesis are abundant, and rare earth metal-organic compounds are industrial catalysts for the production of artificial rubber where neodymium carboxylates and methylaluminium compounds are used. Rare earth chemistry underpins most of these applications and will form the basis of new industrial developments.

Rare earth metal-organic chemistry has been one of the groundbreaking research areas of the last 30 years and we have contributed enormously to this very topical area.

We are always interested in Honours and PhD students joining our group. To discuss opportunities, please contact me via the details on this page.

  • CH1001: Chemistry: A Central Science (Level 1; TSV & CNS)
  • CH1002: Chemistry: Principles and Applications (Level 1; TSV)
  • CH2042: Marine Chemistry and Chemical Ecology (Level 2; TSV)
  • CH2210: Inorganic Chemistry (Level 2; TSV)
  • CH3210: Applications of Inorganic Chemistry (Level 3; TSV)
  • CH5002: Advanced Chemistry Research Project (Level 5; TSV)
  • Rare earth Chemistry, Organometallic chemistry, Organoamido chemistry, Corrosion Inhibitors
  • 2012 to present - Nevitt Professor, James Cook University (Townsville, Qld, Australia)
  • 2016 to 2018 - Research Director, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2015 to 2016 - Head, Matter & Materials, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2012 to 2016 - Head, Chemistry, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2001 to 2012 - Snr Lecturer/Ass Professor/Professor, Monash University (Clayton, Vic, Australia)
  • 2007 to 2009 - Head, School of Chemistry, Monash University (Clayton, Vic)
  • 1997 to 2001 - Lecturer/Snr Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville, Qld, Australia)
  • 1995 to 1996 - Postdoctoral Fellow, Monash University (Clayton, Vic, Australia)
  • 1995 - Research Fellow, University of WA (Nedlands, WA, Australia)
  • 1994 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Missouri (Columbia, MO, USA)
  • 1992 to 1994 - Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL, USA)
  • 1989 to 1992 - Research Chemist, Ampol R&D (Brisbane)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2021 - JCU Distinguished Professor
  • 2020 - The Top Researcher Award in Inorganic Chemistry in Australia: for highest number of citations from papers published in the last 5 years in the 20 top journals. (https://specialreports.theaustralian.com.au/1540291/13/)
  • 2016 - Burrows Award, Premier Inorganic Chemistry Award for the RACI. Contributions to Inorganic Chemistry
  • 2016 - Reperio Award (JCU): Best innovative research presentation to investors
  • 2016 - Terrae Rarae Award: In recognition of outstanding contributions to the coordination chemistry of the rare earth elements. Highlighted in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2016).
  • 2007 - DSc awarded by James Cook University
  • 2003 - Ecka Granules Visiting Lectureship, University of Tasmania
  • 2001 - Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award - Australian Institute of Political Science
  • 2017 - Guest Professor - Université de Paul Sabatier Toulouse
  • 2017 - Specially appointed Professor at University of Osaka (Graduate School of Science)
  • 2016 - Specially appointed Professor at University of Osaka (Graduate School of Science)
  • 2015 - Specially appointed Professor at University of Osaka (Graduate School of Science)
  • 2014 - Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Guest Professorship, Osaka, Japan
  • 2013 - Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Guest Professorship, Osaka, Japan
  • 2010 - Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • 2002 - Elected, Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
  • 2023 - Fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), Stellenbosch University, Wallenberg Centre, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • 2023 - KIT International Excellence Fellowship, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2019 - JSPS Invitational Fellowships for Research in Japan (University of Nagoya), sponsored by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science
  • 2018 - Guest Professor, University of Osaka, Japan
  • 2002 - DAAD Guest Professorship (C4 level), University of Leipzig
  • 2000 to 2001 - DAAD Guest Professorship (C3 level), University of Leipzig
  • 1998 to 1999 - DAAD Guest Professorship (C3 level), University of Leipzig
  • 2023 - Associate Editor, Journal of Organometallic Chemistry
  • 2021 - JCU Distinguished Professor
  • 2021 - Volunteer Scientific Officer for the Qld Fire and Emergency Services
  • 2019 - Australian Synchrotron Macromolecular Crystallography Program Advisory Committee
  • 2017 - Associate Editor, Coordination Chemistry Reviews
  • 2017 - International Advisory Board, Rare Earth Research Conference
  • 2016 - International Advisory Board, International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry
  • 2009 - Associate Editor, New Journal of Chemistry
  • 2022 to 2024 - Member of ARC College of Experts
  • 2019 to 2022 - Member RACI National Congress 2022 Organising Committee
  • 2017 to 2021 - Member, QLD Synchrotron/ANSTO User Group
  • 2014 to 2020 - Editorial Board for Zeitschrift fuer Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie
  • 2017 to 2018 - President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. To join the RACI see: https://www.raci.org.au/
  • 2014 to 2018 - Editorial Board for Nanochemistry Research
  • 2017 - Chair, RACI Centenary National Congress, July 2017, Melbourne
  • 2016 - Chair, International Conference of Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC2016), Melbourne
  • 2016 - Chair, Terrae Rarae, (Rare Earth Chemistry Conference), Magnetic Island, Qld
  • 2015 to 2016 - President-elect of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
  • 2014 - Chair, OZOM8, Magnetic Island, Qld
  • 2003 to 2011 - Organizing Committee OZOM2, 3 (Chair), 4, 5, 6, 8 (Chair), 13 (Chair)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 295+ research outputs authored by Prof Peter Junk from 1998 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Advancing the chemistry of rare earths-an Australian resource

Indicative Funding
$513,000 over 3 years
This project aims to advance knowledge of the synthesis, structures and reactivity of highly reactive rare earth metal-organic compounds. The project expects to build the knowledge and skills to underpin many developments of Australia's still under utilized rare earth resources to diversity from Chinese domination. The expected outcomes will be new synthetic and reaction chemistry including a demonstration of how size and electronic factors can be used to modify and advance rare earth chemistry and related heavy group 2 chemistry. This project should provide significant benefit such as are a better knowledge base in rare earth chemistry to underpin future applications in chemical manufacturing, new materials, catalysis and recycling.
Peter Junk, Victoria Blair and Glen Deacon (College of Science & Engineering and Monash University)
Rare earths; Reactivity; C-X activation; Lanthanides; Metal-organic Compounds; Synthesis

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Understanding and improving rare earth corrosion inhibitors

Indicative Funding
$420,000 over 4 years
This project aims to investigate rare earth corrosion inhibitors by an interdisciplinary program of chemistry and materials science. The project will generate new knowledge as to how rare earth corrosion inhibitors function and can be improved. Expected outcomes include a better understanding of inhibitor induced protective films and improved inhibitors. Significant benefits are eventually better protection of infrastructure from corrosion with greener inhibitors and a new bulk use for rare earths to aid Australia?s emerging rare earth industry.
Peter Junk, Yongjun Tan and Glen Deacon (College of Science & Engineering, Deakin University and Monash University)
rare earths; lanthanidesw; Corrosion; metal-organic compounds; Inhibitors; Synthesis

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Challenging targets in rare earth metalorganic chemistry

Indicative Funding
$450,000 over 4 years
This project aims to prepare technically demanding, highly reactive rare earth organometallic and metal-organic compounds, especially from the free metals, and to determine their structures and reactivity. The challenging target systems include coordination stabilised novel ligands, pseudo-Grignard reagents LnR(X) including the rare fluorides, complexes primed for C-F activation, and intermediates from use of lanthanoid reagents in organic synthesis. The studies provide a knowledge base and expertise for the utilisation of Australia's abundant rare earths in chemical manufacture, catalysis, and recycling, and will transform the current behaviour of the elements.
Peter Junk and Glen Deacon in collaboration with Florian Jaroschik (College of Science & Engineering, Monash University and Institut Charles Gerhardt)
Lanthanoids; Reactivity; rare earths; Structural Chemistry; organometallics

Glencore Mount Isa Mines - Consultancy

Analysis of sheet metals cladding anti rust coatings.

Indicative Funding
Glencore are looking at replacing their minerals concentrate storage sheds with new colorbond materials and require testing on several materials so we can advise them on the most optimal materials to use to minimise corrosion for the future.
Peter Junk in collaboration with Hadis Khakbaz (College of Science & Engineering)
Corrosion; colorbond; Metallic materials

Department of Industry - Innovations Connections

Corrosion inhibitors for Prochem Haulage

Indicative Funding
$42,030 over 1 year, in partnership with Prochem Agencies ($42,030)
This project will implement a new anti-corrosion system at mining sites coordinated by Prochem Haulage
Peter Junk and Paula Walsh (College of Science & Engineering)
Corrosion; Inhibitors

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • To synthesise new divalent and trivalent lanthanoid complexes from lanthanoid pseudo-Grignard reagents and explore their reaction chemistry (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Rare Earth Metal (REM) corrosion inhibitors: Understanding of the composition, structure, properties and function of the protective film formed on steel surfaces (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • To trap novel and unexpected ligand/molecular fragments by reduction reactions of low oxidation state lanthanoid species (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Advancing the value of free rare earth metals in synthesis by (i) one step syntheses of heteroleptic rare earth halides (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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