What is the Ward Group?
The Ward group is a highly interdisciplinary research group at the intersection of organic solid-state chemistry, physical chemistry, materials science, and biomedical chemistry. The research in the Ward group hinges on the design of new organic materials through molecular design principles, relying on non-covalent structure-directing forces such as hydrogen bonds and charge-transfer interactions that guide molecular assembly in the synthesis of molecular crystals. Our efforts capitalize on the versatility of organic synthesis to design molecular building blocks for new materials with properties stemming from the individual molecules and their cooperative interactions in the solid state. The group also explores the fundamentals of crystal growth through a combination of in situ real-time atomic force microscopy and x-ray diffraction, aiming to unravel the critical events at the molecular level that regulate nucleation, crystal growth, polymorphism, and crystal growth inhibition. Collectively, these efforts are motivated by an interest in the design of new functional materials - from separations media to magnetic solids to optoelectronic materials - and the need to understand crystal growth, which it itself is an extraordinary example molecular recognition. As such, the Ward group is increasingly interested in the design of molecules that inhibit the formation of "pathological" crystals that are responsible for diseases ranging from kidney stones to arthritis.