Crystals! Outreach Program web site

Research Interests

X-Ray Crystallography Center

X-ray Crystallography Center web site

Research Group


Selected Publications

Floyd D. Gottwald Professor
Chemistry Department

The College of William and Mary
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795

office phone : 757-221-2555
department fax: 757-221-2715

Ph.D. Brown University 1991; Research advisor: Dwight A. Sweigart
Postdoctoral fellow, Brown University; Advisor: Aaron Wold

I am an inorganic chemist. Inorganic chemistry is the study of compounds based on elements other than carbon. Strange as it may seem, many inorganic compounds (including virtually all of the ones we study) have carbon-based groups in them. The distinction between inorganic and organic compounds is sometimes a matter of taste, but if there's at least one metal atom in a compound, it's inorganic to me. Inorganic compounds are found in the earth (minerals, metal ores, metals, clays), in the water (dissolved salts) and air around us, in living things (salts, metal-containing proteins, such as hemoglobin, bone), and in countless consumer products (metals, semiconductors, concrete, glass). My specific research interests are in the fields of inorganic polymers, organometallics, and X-ray crystallography.


Inorganic Polymers. We are interested in producing new inorganic polymers which have metal atoms within the backbone of the polymer chain. Depending on their chemical construction, these polymeric networks may be chain-like (one dimensional), sheet-like (two dimensional), or fully networked (three dimensional). Metal-organic networks have potential applications as luminescent materials for displays and sensors, as porous materials for separations work, and as catalysts for use in organic reactions. 

X-ray Crystallography. The repeating pattern of atoms that exists in a crystalline substance contains a wealth of information. Crystals are composed of nanometer-scale repeat units, called unit cells. When a tiny crystal is bathed in an X-ray beam, the X-rays diffract off of the layers of atoms present in the crystal. The pattern of diffracted X-ray spots can be reconstructed to yield a map of the positions of atoms in the unit cell. The pictures at the top of this page are "photos" of molecules solved by X-ray crystallography in our laboratory.


Each year I try my hand at writing a chemistry-themed crossword puzzle for the W&M Chemistry Department Newsletter . Here they are, in case you'd like to try solving them.

2009 Puzzle: "Nobelists"

2009 Puzzle Solutions

2010 Puzzle "Glassware"

2010 Puzzle Solutions

2011 Puzzle "It's a Gas"

2011 Puzzle Solutions

2012 Puzzle "Scrambled Elements"

2012 Puzzle Solutions

2013 Puzzle "Chem Doodles"

2013 Puzzle Solutions



We have a new in-school science education program aimed at local 5th grade classes. The program is called "Crystals!" It is a hands-on program that involves growing and examining crystals. The physical, chemical, and mathematical properties of crystals are explored. The program involves two 2-hour in-class visits by myself and several of my W&M students. If you are interested in the program, please the Crystals! web site .


Our group is active in solving X-ray crystallographic structures for chemists at other primarily undergraduate Colleges and Universities. If you would like to know more about this program please the X-ray Crystallography Center web site .


I typically work with 4 to 7 research students at a time. Many of these students spend at least one summer in my laboratory.

 Group Photo

My summer 2013 research group: (front row) Gerardo Ayala ('14) Kylie Henline (Masters '14), (back row) Thomas Dziura ('14), Dima Royzman ('14), me.



Courses:  I teach a number of courses for the William & Mary Department of Chemistry.  The links below allow access to course syllabi.  To access all web-based course materials, go to Blackboard (you must be a William & Mary student to login to Blackboard).

  • Chemistry 101 Chemical Principles (Fall 2012)
  • Chemistry 103 General Chemistry I (last taught Summer 2012)
    Chemistry 305 Inorganic Chemistry (last taught Spring 2006)
  • Chemistry 356 Quantitative and Inorganic Laboratory Methods (last taught Spring 2010)
  • Chemistry 309 Instrumental Analysis (last taught, Fall 1999)
  • Chemistry 402 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (last taught, Spring 2012)

Journal of Chemical Education article on Copper Mirror Demonstration

Video to accompany Journal of Chemical Education article on Copper Mirror Demonstration

Photos and Description of Our Undergraduate Experiment in Metal-Organic Network Chemistry

Pikisms  These are some in-class quotations, ranging from humorous to embarrassing, culled from my Chemistry 103 lectures by Laurie McManus ('04). Disclaimer: There are a few misquotes, resulting in scientifically incorrect statements. Enjoy...


Bob Pike

                    Me with my doggies Boomerang (left) and Rosie (right).

SELECTED RECENT PUBLICATIONS (W&M student names underlined)

J. P. Killarney, M. McKinnon, C. Murphy, K. M. Henline, C. Wang, R. D. Pike and H. H. Patterson, "Amine- and Sulfide-Sensing Copper(I) Iodide Films”, Inorganic Chemistry Communications 2014, 40, 18.

R. D. Pike, T. M. Dziura, J. D. DeButts, C. A. Murray, A. T. Kerr and C. L. Cahill, "Copper(I) Cyanide Networks with 1-Phenylpiperazine”, Journal of Chemical Crystallography 2014, 44, 42.

R. D. Pike and E. S. Honig, "Introduction [to the Dwight Sweigart Tribute Issue]”, Journal of Inorganic and Organometallic Polymer and Materials 2014, 24, 1.

D. E. Royzman, A. M. Noviello, K. M. Henline, R. D. Pike J. P. Killarney, H. H. Patterson, C. Crawford and Z. Assefa, "Structure, Luminescence, and Vapochromism of Bridged Cationic Copper(I) Dimers and Polymers”, Journal of Inorganic and Organometallic Polymer and Materials 2014, 24, 66.

S. B. Kim, R. D. Pike and D. A. Sweigart, "Multi-functionality of Organometallic Quinonoid Metal Complexes: Surface Chemistry, Coordination Polymers, and Catalysts”, Accounts of Chemical Research 2013, 46, 2485.

J. P. Safko, J. E. Kuperstock, S. M. McCullough, A. M. Noviello, X. Li, J. P. Killarney, C. Murphy, H. H. Patterson, C. A. Bayse and R. D. Pike, “Network Formation and Photoluminescence in Copper(I) Halide Complexes with Substituted Piperazine Ligands”, Dalton Transactions 2012, 41, 11663.

R. D. Pike, “Structure and Bonding in Copper(I) Carbonyl and Cyanide Complexes (review)”, Organometallics 2012, 31, 7647.

J. P. Safko and R. D. Pike, “Synthesis and Crystal Structures of N,N'-Disubstituted Piperazines”, Journal of Chemical Crystallography, 2012, 42, 981.

K. M. Miller, S. M. McCullough, E. A. Lepekhina, I. J. Thibau, R. D. Pike X. Li, J. P. Killarney and H. H. Patterson, “Copper(I) Thiocyanate-Amine Networks: Synthesis, Structure, and Luminescence Behavior ”, Inorganic Chemistry 2011, 50, 7239.

C. A. Bayse, J. L. Ming, K. M. Miller, S. M. McCollough and R. D. Pike, “Photoluminescence of Silver(I) and Gold(I) Cyanide 1D Coordination Polymers ”, Inorganica Chimica Acta 2011, 375, 47.

M. D. Dembo, L. E. Dunaway, J. S. Jones, E. Lepekhina, S. M. McCullough, J. L. Ming, X. Li, F. Baril-Robert, H. H. Patterson, C. A. Bayse, and R. D. Pike, "Structure and Luminescence Copper(I) Cyanide-Amine and -Sulfide Networks", Inorganica Chimica Acta 2010, 364, 102.

R. D. Pike, "Metals in Metal Salts: A Copper Mirror Demonstration", Journal fo the Chemical Education 2010 , 87, 1062.

A. N. Ley, L. E. Dunaway, T. P. Brewster , M. D. Dembo , T. D. Harris, F. Baril-Robert, X. Li, H. H. Patterson, and R. D. Pike, "Reversible Luminescent Reaction of Amines with Copper(I) Cyanide", Chemical Communications   2010, 46, 4565.

S. B. Kim, S. Lotz, S. Sun, Y. K. Chung, R. D. Pike and D. A. Sweigart, “The Synthesis and Application of Manganese Tricarbonyl Transfer (MMT) Agents”, Inorganic Syntheses 2010 , 35 , 114.

A. Saxena , E. C. Dugan, J. Liaw, M. D. Dembo , and R. D. Pike, "Copper(I) Complexes of Hetercyclic Thiourea Ligands", Polyhedron 2009, 28, 4017.

A. G. Zestos, C. L. Grinnell, L. J. Vinh , R. D. Pike, and W. H. Starnes, Jr. "Metal-Exchanged Clay and Zeolite Additives as Smoke Suppressants and Fire Retardants for Poly(vinyl chloride)" Journal of Vinyl and Additive Technology 2009, 15, 87.

R. D. Pike, T. J. Brewster and C. A. Bayse, “Photoluminescence of 1-D Copper(I) Cyanide Chains: A Theoretical Description”, Inorganic Chemistry 2009, 48, 174.

J. E. Kuperstock, A. N. Ley and R. D. Pike, “Piperazinium Chlorocuprates(I)”, Journal of Chemical Crystallography 2009, 39, 131.

M. J. Lim, C. A. Murray, T. A. Tronic, K. E. deKrafft , A. N. Ley, J. C. deButts, R. D. Pike, H. Lu and H. H. Patterson, “Copper(I) Cyanide Networks: Synthesis, Structure, and Luminescence Behavior, Part 2. Piperazine Ligands and Hexamethylenetetramine”, Inorganic Chemistry 2008, 47, 6931.

S. Pagola, R. D. Pike, K. E. deKrafft, T. A. Tronic , “[CuCN(mu-PyzNH 2] Three Dimensional Network from Laboratory Powder Diffraction Data”, Acta Crystallographica, Section C 2008, 64, m132.

W.-K. Ho, J. K. Walker, S. V. Orski, T. W. Fuller , A. G. Zestos, C. L. Grinnell , R. D. Pike and W. H. Starnes, Jr., “A New Synergistic Effect in the Smoke Suppression of Plasticized Poly(vinyl chloride) by Mixed-Metal Cu(II) Oxides”, Journal of Vinyl and Additive Technology 2008, 14, 16.