Emeritus Professor Curt Wentrup

Emeritus Professor

School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences
Faculty of Science
+61 7 336 53817


Educated at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Australian National University, Canberra. Career at the Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Universität Marburg, Germany. Professor and Chair of Organic Chemistry and Head of the Organic Chemistry Section, The University of Queensland from 1985. Emeritus professor from 2008. Chair of the National Committee for Chemistry of the Australian Academy of Science 2009-2014. Editor-in-Chief, Australian Journal of Chemistry 2008-15. Editor, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis (Elsevier, IF 3.65) 2016-. Visiting Professor Université de Pau, France, 2011-19; Visiting Professor University of Kuwait 2014-18; Visiting Professor / Special Appointed Professor Hiroshima University 2014-18. Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. Centenary Medal of the Australian Commonwealth 2003 for research in organic and physical chemistry. David Craig Medal of the Academy of Science 2014 for research in chemistry. JSPS Fellowship (Japan) 2014. Honorary doctorate, University of Pau, France, 2014. A.J. Birch Medal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) for ecellence in research in organic chemistry, 2014. Leighton Medal of the RACI 2018.

Research on Unusual Molecules and Reactive Intermediates: Synthesis and Reaction Mechanism. Heterocyclic chemistry. Pyrolysis reactions. Photochemistry

Research in the Wentrup group is concerned with the discovery of novel types of molecules with new and unusual bonding patterns. Such molecules are mostly highly reactive, and special methods are required both for their generation and for their detection. The group has developed these methods over many years and acquired world-class equipment for these purposes, including flash vacuum thermolysis apparatus, cryostats for matrix isolation of reaction products at cryogenic temperatures (down to 7 K), matrix and solution photochemistry equipment, infrared, UV and mass spectrometers, as well as modern computational facilities.

This research has resulted in the synthesis and characterization of many novel compounds, including extended cumulenes of the types RN=C=C=C=X, which themselves are used in the synthesis of many novel types of molecules, some of them of potential pharmaceutical interest (quinolone antibiotics; diazepines).

The research group has a world reputation in the field of carbene and nitrene chemistry, involving reactive intermediates with sextet carbon or nitrogen. These species are also very useful in synthesis, for example in the preparation of diazepines and diazepinones, a family of pharmaceutically interesting compounds. Numerous mechanistic studies and synthetic applications of ketenes have been carried out in our group.

Active collaborations are ongoing with scientists in Australia (UQ and CSIRO), China (Suzhou), France (Pau), Germany (Oldenburg), Japan (Hiroshima), Spain (Donostia - San Sebastian), and Portugal (Coimbra).

Research Interests

  • Organic, physical, and historical chemistry
    Reactive intermediates, pyrolysis, photochemistry, reaction mechanism. History of science.

Research Impacts

This research leads to the development of new pharmaceuticals, e.g. new antibiotics (quinolones and naphthyridones) and new leads towards a treatment for scizophrenia (diazepine molecules).

Chemical industry has used our pyrolysis techniques in specialized manufacturing processes.

Our analytical/spectroscopic work has led to cooperation with chemical and energy firms and agencies involved in forensic science, and our research has generated collaborations with many scientists at universities in Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, Switzerland, and USA.


  • Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
  • Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Science
  • Doctoral Diploma
  • Doctor of Philosophy of Science (Advanced), University of Copenhagen
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Australian National University


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • (2006) Doctor Philosophy

  • (2002) Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Wentrup, Curt (2018). Flash vacuum pyrolysis. Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. (pp. 1-28) Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/0471238961.flasmcna.a01.pub2

  • Wentrup, Curt (2013). Matrix studies on aromatic and heteroaromatic nitrenes and their rearrangements. Nitrenes and nitrenium ions. (pp. 273-315) edited by Daniel E. Falvey and Anna D. Gudmundsdottir. Hoboken NJ, United States: John Wiley and Sons Inc.. doi: 10.1002/9781118560907.ch8

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Note for students: Emeritus Professor Curt Wentrup is not currently available to take on new students.

Completed Supervision

  • () Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • (2006) Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • (2002) Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • (2002) Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor