24 February 2009
Christoph Janiak is professor of inorganic and analytical chemistry at the University of Freiburg, Germany. His research focuses on the construction of polynuclear complexes and coordination polymers, crystal engineering and olefin polymerisation. He is a member of the Editorial Board of CrystEngComm.
Why did you to become a scientist?
My high school chemistry teacher got me hooked to chemistry. Ever since I got this subject in my 9th grade I knew I wanted to study chemistry.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on coordination polymers (nowadays more fashionably called MOFs), metal nanoparticles in ionic liquids, metal complexes and their supramolecular interactions and complexes for olefin polymerization and oligomerization.
What do you think will be the next big breakthrough in your field?
It is difficult to be a prophet, especially since we mostly tend to extrapolate from our present knowledge and therefore, it is difficult to imagine a really “unforeseeable” breakthrough. In chemistry at large I am waiting to see a “simple” system which can replicate itself (as an essential element of life).
How do you think crystal engineering will develop in the next five years?
I think we will see an increase in built-in complexity in molecular crystals for electrooptical phenomena or solid-state reactivity. I also think we will progress, with the help of computations, to predict and to quantitatively rationalize crystal packing, not just describe it.
What would you do if you weren’t a scientist?
I may have gone to law school.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
To have, as a university professor, the freedom to decide what research I want to do and to work with young people.
What is the secret to a successful research group?
To give the young Master or Ph.D. students the freedom to follow their ideas – even if somewhat outside of your present research. That is how I recently started a project into the field of nanoscience.
What advice would you give to a young scientist?
To read, read, read in the journals so as to develop a broad perspective of chemistry and not to be too narrow in your research.
Can you tell us a little known fact about yourself?
I co-author textbooks in inorganic chemistry for B.Sc. and M.Sc. students and to keep in shape I jog and run a marathon once a year (that may be two facts!).