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 440 research publications in peer-reviewed internationally recognised journals, and in excess of 11,516 citations and an h-index of 53 (Google Scholar). I have received in excess of $13.5M in research funding from the ARC and other external funding agencies. I have presented >90  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; CNS & TSV)
  • CH1002: Chemistry: Principles and Applications (Level 1; TSV)
  • CH2043: Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Analysis (Level 2; TSV)
  • CH2210: Inorganic Chemistry (Level 2; TSV)
  • CH3104: Advanced Chemistry Project (Level 3; TSV)
  • CH3210: Applications of Inorganic Chemistry (Level 3; TSV)
  • CH5001: Research and Dissertation in Chemistry (Level 5; TSV)
  • CH5002: Research Skills and Communication in Chemistry (Advanced) (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
  • 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 - Specially appointed Professor at University of Osaka (Graduate School of Science)
  • 2017 - Guest Professor - Université de Paul Sabatier Toulouse
  • 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
  • 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
  • 2021 - Volunteer Scientific Officer for the Qld Fire and Emergency Services
  • 2019 to 2022 - Member RACI National Congress 2022 Organising Committee
  • 2019 to 2021 - Australian Synchrotron Macromolecular Crystallography Program Advisory Committee
  • 2017 to 2021 - International Advisory Board, Rare Earth Research Conference
  • 2017 to 2021 - Member, QLD Synchrotron/ANSTO User Group
  • 2017 to 2021 - Associate Editor, Coordination Chemistry Reviews
  • 2016 to 2021 - International Advisory Board, International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry
  • 2009 to 2021 - Associate Editor, New Journal of Chemistry
  • 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, 4, 5, 6

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 245+ 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

Understanding and improving rare earth corrosion inhibitors

Indicative Funding
$420,000 over 3 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 3 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 Paul Walsh (College of Science & Engineering)
Corrosion; Inhibitors

Department of Industry - Innovations Connections

Environmentally friendly corrosion inhibitors

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 1 year, in partnership with Prochem Agencies ($50,219)
Corrosion is a multibillion dollar cost afflicting critical infrastructure in almost all major industries. This research project aims to translate the cutting edge of corrosion science and technology to advance the knowledge of corrosion and its inhibition for a practical industry application. JCU will collaborate with Prochem haulage to design a corrosion inhibitor formulation for water used in cleaning/washing of mining vehicles.
Peter Junk in collaboration with Nazli Eslamirad (College of Science & Engineering)
rare earth; metal-organic compounds; Corrosion; Lanthanides; syntheses; Inhibitors

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Reactive metal-organics embracing the rare earth and alkaline earth metals

Indicative Funding
$392,100 over 3 years
With abundant, but until recently neglected, rare earth resources, Australia is positioned to become a major supplier of these strategic elements as the world faces a shortage created by a Chinese monopoly and much reduced exports. Advancing the chemistry of highly reactive rare earth metal-organic compounds including syntheses from the free metals and alloys will provide a knowledge base and breakthrough science to underpin future applications in chemical manufacture, catalysis, new materials and recycling. Steric and electronic manipulation of rare earth coordination behaviour will transform their syntheses and reactions.
Peter Junk in collaboration with Glen Deacon, Florian Jaroschik and Reiner Anwander (College of Science & Engineering, Monash University, Universite de Reims Champagne-Ardenne and Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tubingen)
Lanthanoids; Synthesis; Organometallic Chemistry; Catalysis; main group

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.

  • Reductive trapping of novel anionic ligands (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Preparation of phenolato d-and f-block metal complexes and studies of their reactivity (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Fundamental Understanding of the Composition, Structure, Properties and Function of the Protective Film formed on Steel Surfaces by Rare Earth Metal (REM) Corrosion Inhibitors (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Fundamental Understanding of the Composition, Structure, Properties and Function of the Protective Film formed on Steel Surfaces by Rare Earth Metal (REM) Corrosion Inhibitors (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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