School of Physical Sciences


Paul obtained a Bachelor of Science degree with 1st class honours from the University of Sydney, graduating with a university medal in 2004. He stayed at Sydney to carryout a PhD focusing on analysing phase transitions in perovskite oxides, under the supervision of Professor Brendan Kennedy, from which he graduated at the end of 2008 with the AINSE gold medal. Paul then spent periods as a postdoc at the University of Cambridge, focusing on the creation and characterisation of magnetic frameworks in the group of Professor Anthony Cheetham, and University of Oxford, working with Professor Andrew Goodwin on the local magnetic and crystallographic structure of ferrous oxide. In 2013 he was then awarded a prestigious Glasstone Fellowship at Oxford to independently investigate the magnetic interactions in multiferroic and low dimensional frameworks. Paul joined the School of Physical Sciences in late 2015 as a lecturer in Chemistry and has since been awarded the Institute of Physics Physical Crystallography Prize.

Contact Information


Room 305, Ingram Building

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Bovill, S., Dixey, R. and Saines, P. (2017). Three Coordination Frameworks with Copper Formate based Low Dimensional Motifs: Synthesis, Structure and Magnetic Properties. CrystEngComm [Online] 19:1831-1838. Available at:
Aston, J. and Saines, P. (2017). Transition-Metal Dependent Cation Disorder in the Chiral Cubic AB(HCO2)3 Metal-Organic Frameworks (A = Li or Na, B = Mn or Co). Zeitschrift fur Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie [Online] 643:287-293. Available at:
Gibbs, A. et al. (2017). S=12 quantum critical spin ladders produced by orbital ordering in Ba2CuTeO6. Physical Review B [Online] 95. Available at:
Saines, P. et al. (2016). One-dimensional magnetic order in the metal–organic framework Tb(HCOO)3. Physical Review B: Condensed Matter and Materials Physics [Online] 94. Available at:
Saines, P. et al. (2016). Exploration of Antiferromagnetic CoO and NiO using Reverse Monte Carlo Total Neutron Scattering Refinement. Physica Scripta [Online] 91. Available at:
Showing 5 of 48 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Research Interests

Materials with complex and tuneable electronic and magnetic interactions play a key role in the function of many modern technologies. Work in this group focuses on designing new coordination compounds, which form extended crystalline frameworks, as a novel route to developing substances with such functional properties. Most significantly the unusual architectures of these materials, controlled by the cations and ligands they incorporate, enable new routes or unusual modifications to their functions that cannot be found in conventional magnetic and electronic materials. The electronic and magnetic behaviour of these frameworks are intricately linked to their crystal structures and we use cutting-edge characterisation techniques to develop a deeper understanding of the key role of structure-property relationships in their properties.

Smart Magnetic Compounds

Memory storage and sensing applications require magnets with more complex and adjustable properties than traditional materials. This requires the development of new multiferroic materials, in which electronic and magnetic order are coupled, or magnets whose physical properties can be tuned by their environment, such as the inclusion of different guest molecules. Framework materials are ideal for these applications as they exhibit unique physical properties not observed in other magnets, owing to the role their cations and ligands play in shaping them. The ternary formates are an archetypal example of this. Their structures are comprised of a magnetically active B-site metal while the A-site is occupied by an organic cation that can order ferroelectrically; multiferroic behaviour arises from the host-guest interactions in these materials. We have recently established the effect of cation size on the architecture formed by such ternary formates, along with more detailed studies of the nature of their electronic and magnetic interactions. Current work includes exploring analogous ternary frameworks containing other ligands as a route to improving the multiferroic properties of these compounds.

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Low Dimensional Frameworks

Materials with strong bonding or magnetic interactions in fewer than three dimensions can exhibit unusual physical properties. Frameworks are ideal low dimensional materials as their structure can be readily tailored to feature isolated sheets or chains. Compounds with weak, non-covalent interactions in one or two dimensions are amenable for delamination into nano-sheets or chains, which can exhibit enhanced properties owing to their nanostructures. We have recently shown that the formation of such architectures can be induced by the inclusion of bulky functional groups, such as the methyl groups on the dimethylsuccinate ligand. Magnets with low-dimensional interactions can also adopt exotic spin structures, providing tremendous insight into the fundamental nature of magnetism. Our recent work has shown that low-dimensional magnetic frameworks have considerable potential as low-temperature coolants and we are currently exploring routes for improving such materials further, underpinned by detailed studies of their magnetic interactions.



Magnetic Structure Determination

Understanding the structure-property relationship in complex frameworks often requires challenging structural analysis using major neutron or X-ray diffraction facilities such as the Diamond Light Source and the ISIS neutron spallation source in Oxfordshire or via the group’s on-going collaborations with specialists at the OPAL nuclear reactor in Australia. Neutron diffraction can provide insight into the complex magnetic architectures of frameworks in details far beyond other techniques. This allows the orientation of the spin in the structure to be determined, thereby distinguishing between different types of magnetic order and interactions. We have a major focus on determining the magnetic structures of framework materials, which underpins our synthetic work, and have unique capabilities in this area. Studying the local magnetic structures of low-dimensional materials, needed to truly understand their behaviour, is even more challenging and, alongside examining simpler model systems such as the antiferromagnetic transition metal rock salts, we have recently published the first such study on a framework material, Tb formate. We have begun to expand such studies into probing the proton conducting pathways of framework materials, to understand the key role different functional groups play in their properties.

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I have taught as the University of Sydney and University of Oxford and am currently enrolled in the Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education at the University of Kent. I currently lecture in CH622, Inorganic Synthetic Chemistry.

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School of Physical Sciences, Ingram Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NH

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Last Updated: 19/10/2017