Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Milton Harris Professor of Materials Science
A.B. Hamilton College, 1960
PhD. University of Connecticut, 1963
Professor Sleights interests are mainly in the synthesis of new inorganic solids and in the elucidation of structureproperty relationships of inorganic solids, especially oxides. Currently, oxides which contract on heating are under intensive study. Such compounds have potential applications in electronics, optics, and dental restorations. An example of a compound found to show strong negative thermal expansion is ZrW2O8. The cause of the unusual thermal expansion is illustrated in the movie on this page. Thermally activated rocking motions of the ZrO6 octahedra (green) and WO4 tetrahedra (red) cause the thermal contraction without any decrease in ZrO or WO bond lengths.
Exploratory synthesis efforts have led to the discovery of a new family of compounds with the formula BiA2MO6 (A = Mg, Ca, Cd, or Cu; M = V, As, or P). The structures of these compounds are similar but differ in details. Ferroelectric behavior has been established for BiCa2VO6.