Dr David Mills’ independent career began in 2012 at the University of Manchester, where he is now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry. Prior to this, he spent five years as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Steve Liddle at the University of Nottingham following his PhD with Prof. Cameron Jones at Cardiff University. This rising star has already made seminal advances, and he leads a research group that focuses on synthesising non-aqueous f-element complexes with specific geometrical features, in order to target specific physical and chemical properties. Dr Mills has published >70 journal articles, reviews and book chapters and has been awarded >£2.8M in grant income as principal investigator, including a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant. In recognition of his achievements in f-block chemistry he was awarded the RSC Harrison-Meldola Memorial Prize in 2018.

In lanthanide chemistry, he has synthesised complexes with unusual axial geometries to maximise the single-molecule magnet (SMM) properties of dysprosium complexes. SMMs exhibit interesting magnetic behaviour of a molecular origin and are potential candidates for high-density data storage and quantum computing, but require liquid helium cooling to fully express these properties. Dr Mills’ research group have synthesised lanthanide complexes with unique geometries and landmark SMM properties, redefining the SMM community research agenda.

In actinide chemistry, Dr Mills’ has developed the chemistry of thorium in the very rare +3 oxidation state and used this to develop the chemists dream, to experimentally probe covalency. Using EPR spectroscopy, he reported the first pulsed EPR experiments on actinide complexes and has adapted these techniques to quantify covalency in actinide-carbon bonds. Such textbook data can be transferable to facilitate improved recycling processes in future nuclear fuel cycles since covalency will be the solution to separations challenges.