About Chemistry

Test tubes filled with coloured substances.

Chemistry is a diverse discipline, involving substances in every aspect of life – what we see, eat, smell, touch, and taste every day. With an equal emphasis on theory and practical work, Waterloo's chemistry undergraduate and graduate programs prepare you for a growing number of dynamic career options. You could be searching for the roots of crippling diseases, developing cancer-fighting drugs, or assessing environmental damage.

Chemistry research areas

Some of the specialized topics being investigated by UW Chemistry Faculty can be found in the following classical research areas below.

Analytical Chemistry

  • Carbon nanotube based transdermal drug delivery systems
  • Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – development and applications
  • Development and applications of Solid-Phase Micro-Extraction (SPME) technology for in-vitro and in-vivo analysis
  • Clinical and pharmaceutical applications of SPME
  • Non-lethal in-vivo SPME monitoring of biologically significant compounds and environmental contaminants in live tissues
  • Advances in multidimensional chromatography
  • Advanced separations techniques in the analysis of environmental pollutants
  • Passive air sampling in environmental analysis
  • DNA-aptamer based biosensors for detection in biological fluids
  • Electroanalytical chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry and in vitro toxicology assays
  • Micro- and nano-samples by Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) atomic emission and ICP-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Green chromatography
  • Battery-operated micro-plasmas on-chips
  • Direct coupling of SPME to Mass Spectrometry (MS) for rapid complex sample determinations
  • Development of new formats of extraction phases and devices
  • Investigation of fundamental process in extraction

Biological Chemistry or Biochemistry

  • Particle-displayed DNA for aptamer selection and aptamer-based detection
  • Structure and function investigations of nitric oxide synthase and calmodulin
  • Mechanisms of protein aggregation
  • Protein engineering and design
  • Developing novel methods for combinatorial selection of aptamers
  • Design, synthesis, and enzymology of novel enzyme inhibitors
  • Study of enzymes important in microorganisms and potential for drug design
  • Protein structure and function
  • Bionanotechnology-application of proteins and enzymes to nanotechnology
  • Structure and function of membrane-damaging toxins and antibiotics
  • Nucleic acid structure and function
  • Biomolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy
  • RNA as drug and drug target

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Solid state chemistry of energy storage materials: synthesis and properties
  • Intermetallics for Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell catalysis
  • Solid state nitrites
  • Supercapacitors and pseudocapacitor materials
  • Solid state chemistry of lithium ion batteries
  • Heavy atom radicals as multifunctional magnetic and conductive materials
  • Solid state chemistry: advanced thermoelectric materials
  • Solid state chemistry: nonconventional polyselenides and polytellurides
  • Synthetic bioinorganic chemistry
  • Nitrogenase-inspired iron cluster chemistry
  • Reactivity studies of divalent titanium
  • Synthesis and self-assembly of organometallic monomers


  • Nanofluidics in carbon nanotubes
  • Designing carbon nanotubes to overcome bio-barriers
  • Hybrid nanostructured materials: correlation of structure, transport, and electrochemical properties of alkali transition metal phosphates
  • Designing carbon nanotubes and mesoporous carbons for energy storage
  • DNA directed assembly of soft and hard nanomaterials for sensing and drug delivery
  • Synthesis and assembly of nano-materials
  • Integrative chemistry for nanomaterials
  • Complex inorganic nanostructures
  • Nanomaterials and nanodevices for diology and medicine
  • Health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials
  • Cell-nanomaterial interaction based devices and electronic sensors
  • Ion based self-assembly of nanoparticles and devices
  • Design and synthesis of supramolecular functional nanomaterials

Organic Chemistry

  • Asymmetric conjugate additions
  • Synthesis and evaluation of b-lactamase inhibitors
  • New methods for sulfation of steroids and carbohydrates
  • Development of new methods for asymmetric synthesis
  • Stereocontrolled synthesis of biologically-relevant molecules
  • Ligand-catalyzed asymmetric transformations
  • Design of organometallic reagents for asymmetric carbon-carbon bond forming process

Physical Chemistry

  • Nanofluidics in carbon nanotubes
  • Multifunctional complex oxide nano structures
  • Supercapacitors and pseudocapacitor materials
  • Solid state electrochemistry of energy storage and conversion materials
  • High resolution magic angle spinning NMR of polymer-supported peptides
  • NMR studies of prionlike peptide structures
  • Biological metal sites as studied by solid-state NMR spectroscopy
  • Solid-state implementations for Quantum Information Processing (QIP)
  • In liquid electron microscopy
  • High resolution structure and structural dynamics
  • Time-resolved characterization of two dimensional quantum materials

Polymer Chemistry

  • Synthesis of branched polymers using click chemistry
  • Characterization of "(AspxPhey)n" polypeptide aggregates and their potential for drug delivery applications
  • Polymer-stabilized metallic nanoparticle catalysts
  • Arborescent polymers based on amino acids
  • Microencapsulation by amphiphilic polymers for drug delivery
  • Physical characterization of branched polymers (rheology, solution viscosity, light scattering, etc.)
  • Synthesis and characterization of ionomers
  • Organometallic polymer synthesis and self-assembly

Theoretical Chemistry

  • Internally contracted multireference coupled cluster method and normal-order-based automatic code generator
  • Advances in the density matrix renormalization group method for use in quantum chemistry (spin adaptation, two-body density matrix evaluation, orbital optimization)
  • Development and application of improved models for intermolecular potential energy functions
  • Dynamical studies of Van der Waals cluster solvation and their spectroscopic signatures
  • Path integral simulations of quantum fluids
  • Simulations of doped helium nano-droplets