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 400 research publications in peer-reviewed internationally recognised journals, and in excess of 9000 citations and an h-index of 46. I have received in excess of $11M 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 >35 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)
  • CH1002: Chemistry: Principles and Applications (Level 1; TSV)
  • CH2043: Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Analysis (Level 2; TSV)
  • CH2210: Syntheses and Mechanism in 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)
  • PC1005: Molecular Basis of Therapeutics 1 (Level 1; TSV)
  • PC2002: Molecular Basis of Therapeutics 3 (Level 2; 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
  • 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).
  • 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
  • 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
  • 2017 to 2019 - Associate Editor, Coordination Chemistry Reviews
  • 2009 to 2019 - Associate Editor, New Journal of Chemistry
  • 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 Zeitschrift fuer Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie
  • 2014 to 2018 - Editorial Board for Nanochemistry Research
  • 2017 - International Advisory Board, Rare Earth Research Conference, Ames, Iowa, USA. June 18-22, 2017
  • 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
  • 2007 - DSc awarded by James Cook University

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 220+ 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

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

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science - Innovations Connections

Environmentally friendly corrosion inhibitors

Indicative Funding
$50,000 , 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

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Targeting bio-compatible homo- and hetero-bimetallic cages and their application in high energy and dual energy computed tomography

Indicative Funding
$130,001 over 3 years (administered by Monash University)
The project is focused on the synthesis, characterisation and stability of novel homo-metallic and hetero-metallic O- and S- based cage compounds which have the potential to be suitable for high energy and Dual Energy CT imaging (DECT), and also for optical imaging where rare-earth metals are involved. Pre-requisites for cage design are that they be stable and soluble in aqueous media, and be resistant to anionic ligand exchange at the cluster surface. The targeted metals are based on good attenuation at high (100-140 keV) and low X-ray (< 30 keV) energies, and the possibility of high stability and low toxicity.
Philip Andrews and Peter Junk (Monash University and College of Science & Engineering)
rare earths; Main Group Chemistry; metal-organic chemistry

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.

  • Preparation of Phenolato d-and f-block Metal Complexes and Studies of their Reactivity (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Catalysts for the production of solar fuels (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Reductive Trapping of Novel Anionic Ligands (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Synthesis of New Divalent Europium Complexes for Luminescence Applications (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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