João Rocha

Full Professor

Short CV


Scopus Author ID: 7202074281

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João Rocha is Full Professor of Chemistry and was Director of the University of Aveiro Institute of Materials-CICECO from 2002 to 2021.

Present Coordinator of the Council of Associated Laboratories, a bottom up organisation gathering the directors of the 40 Associated Laboratories, the main research institutes in the country in all areas of knowledge, representing ca. 9,500 researchers.



João (born 1962) is member of the European Academy of Sciences (EURASC), of the Académie Royal de Belgique des Science, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts, and of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences (Chemistry) (restricted to 5 'Efectivo' Chemists), and Fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Chemistry Europe. In 2012-14 he was advisor for the Prime Minister of Portugal, as a member of the National Science and Technology Council. In 2021 he received the Romão Dias prize from the Portuguese Chemical Society, in 2020 the French-Portuguese prize from the Société Chimique de France, in 2017 the prize Ferreira Silva (highest distinction bestowed by the Portuguese Chemical Society), in 2015 the Medinabeitia-Lourenço prize from the Real Sociedad Española de Química, in 2005 the prize for Scientific Excellence from the Portuguese Science Foundation, and in 1990 a prize from Emmanuel College, Cambridge (for having finished his Ph.D. in two years).


He got his Ph.D. in 1990 from the Department of Chemistry, Cambridge University, UK, working on solid-state NMR of kaolinite and related materials (supervisor Prof. Jacek Klinowski). This was followed by a one-year post-doc (NMR of zeolite-type materials) in the same group. He obtained his ‘Agregação’ (Habilitation) in 1997 in the University of Aveiro, Portugal. He has been in the Chemistry Department, Aveiro University, since mid 1991. In 1999 he was promoted to Full Professor of Inorganic Chemistry.


João published ca. 540 SCI papers and 25 book chapters, with (Google Scholar) ca. 28,000 citations, h index =81 (Scopus, respectively, ca. 24,000 and 71), and 4 patent applications, and gave over 250 talks (most invited) at conferences (most international). The Stanford University ranking places him at the top 2% scientists in all disciplines. He has mentored 43 post-docs and 34 Ph.D. students He has coordinated over two-dozen projects (6 European, as national PI), and consulted widely for industry.


João has been in the Chemistry Department, University of Aveiro, since mid 1991 and was promoted to Full Professor of Inorganic Chemistry in 1999. He gave tutorials in Inorganic Chemistry and NMR while at Cambridge. He was invited Professor at Oviedo University in 2010. He was Vice-Director of the European Multifunctional Materials Institute, a follow up of the European Network of Excellence (FAME). He represented Portugal at the ESRF-Grenoble (2004-06) and at the Chairmen of the European Research Councils of Chemistry (2005-07).

He was Chair (and is still a member) of the 'Commission on Inorganic and Mineral Structures' and is consultant of the 'Commission on NMR Crystallography and Related Methods' of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr). He was Chair of the editorial board of European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, and editor of the RSC Nanoscience and Nanotechnology book series, and was on the editorial board of Solid State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Chemistry - a European Journal. Atr present he is member of the editorial boards of Comptes Rendues de la Académie des Sciences-Chimie, and Solid State Sciences, and editorial Advisor for BMC Chemical Engineering.

He has been coordinator (PE11 CoG) and a member of assessment committees of the European Research Council Advanced and Starting Grants (PE5), IBM prize Portugal, LABEX (France), Portuguese Science Foundation, and has also reviewed projects and assessed research groups for France, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, UK, Austria. He has been a regular referee for the leading journals in Chemistry, Materials Science and NMR.


João’s first degree was on Physics and Chemistry aimed at teaching in secondary schools. He still enjoys (whenever possible) visiting schools and giving talks aimed at raising the student's scientific awareness and showing the beauty of Chemistry and Materials Science. 
João is passionate for Nature and loves bird watching (especially eagles) or just rambling around. He is very serious about playing karate (black belt, 2 Dan, Shotokan Kase Ha) and loves gardening, music (particularly opera), nature photography, poetry, and meeting people other than scientists and academics.

Main present collaborators

Manuel Souto, Andrei Kholkin, Luís Carlos, Artur Silva, Filipe Paz, Luís Mafra, Zhi Lin, Duarte Ananias, Eduarda Pereira, Carlos Silva, Carlos Brites; Carlos Geraldes (Coimbra); Marie-Helene Delville (Bordeaux); Xiaogang Liu (NUS Singapore); Reda Abdelhameed (National Research Centre, Giza, Egipt)

Scientific Interests


• Created a field of materials akin to zeolites: microporous silicates of transition metals and lanthanides (over 100 novel Ti, Zr, V, Nb, Cu, Sn, Ca, Y, Ce and other Ln silicates, so-called AV and AM materials) processed in the form of powders, membranes and films. To be clear, these are stoichiometric materials, not metal-doped zeolites, whose archetypal solid is titanium silicate ETS-10 (Nature367: 347, 1994). He has explored applications in luminescence (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 137: 3051, 2015), catalysis, gas sorption and separation, ion exchange, magnetism and as MRI contrast agentes (J. Phys. Chem. B, 1997, 10: 7114, 1997, Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 801, 2000J. Am. Chem. Soc., 125: 14573, 2003Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 45: 7938, 2006J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131: 8620, 2009J. Am. Chem. Soc., 137: 3051, 2015). Outstandingly, one zirconium silicate has found a real commercial application as a drug for the treatment of hyperkalemia.

• Developed unprecedented luminescent lanthanide-bearing Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and coordination polymers (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 47: 1080, 2008) and, in particular, pioneered the field of MOFs nanothermometry (ACS Nano7: 7213, 2013Adv. Funct. Mater., 25: 2824, 2015Chem. Eur. J., 22: 14782, 2016). Representative other contributions include MOFs transposition of chirality (Inorg. Chem., 51: 1703, 2012), Chem. Commun., 49: 11668, 2013), 2D-3D interconvertible MOFs, and photocatalytic MOFs – Cr(III) and Ag nanoparticles composites (Chem. Eur. J., 21: 11072, 2015).

• Designed a photoresponsive crystalline organic-inorganic hybrid ferroelectric material with a high Curie temperature (423 K), paving the way for accomplishing multiple-state ferroelectric memories, optical switches, and various optoelectronic devices (J. Am. Chem. Soc.,142: 16990, 2020, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2023,

 Developed oxide nanoparticles for imaging contrast agents (ACS Nano, 4: 5339, 2010), bimodal imaging (Biomater., 33: 925, 2012), and thermometry (Nature Nanotech11: 851, 2016Adv. Mater., 35: 4868, 2013).

 Designed materials for small-drugs release (including NO, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133: 6396, 2011).

• Devised materials for a more sustainable World (including anti-mosquito nets, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces9: 22112, 2017; and uranyl capture Angew. Chem., Intl. Ed., 58: 1, 2019).

• Designed (ca. 40) heterogeneous catalysts based on mesoporous silicas derivatized with metal complexes (J. Mater. Chem., 12: 1735, 2002), and ordered benzene-silica hybrids with molecular-scale periodicity in the walls and different mesopore sizes (J. Mater. Chem., 13:1910, 2003).

• Elucidated the structure of minerals using NMR and XRD techniques (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 113: 7100, 1991J. Am. Chem. Soc., 114: 6867, 1992Am. Mineral., 103: 812, 2018).

• Investigated the mechanisms of adsorption and activation of CO2 on nanoporous materials (Chem. Mater., 23: 1387, 2011).

• Pioneered the development and application of solid-state NMR techniques for studying (i) quadrupolar (I>1/2) nuclei, encompassing 2H exchange NMR (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 114: 6867, 1992), quadrupole nutation and DOR (Solid State NMR1: 217, 1992), multiple-quantum MAS NMR and related techniques (FAM MQ MAS, HETCOR MQ MAS, ST MAS, I-ST MAS...) (J. Phys. Chem., 100: 17889, 1996Solid State NMR, 21: 61, 2002Magn. Reson. Chem., 41: 679, 2003), and (ii) 1H high-resolution CRAMPS techniques (FSLG, PMLG, DUMBO) (J. Mag. Reson., 199: 111, 2009Chem. Phys. Lett., 470: 337, 2009). Recent interests include NMR crystallography (Cryst. Grow Design, 13: 2390, 2013) and the development of molecules to probe by NMR microporous solids (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 143: 13616, 2021).


Rocha is perhaps best known for having extended the realm of zeolitic materials to transition metal and Ln silicate solids. In this context, he developed several microporous zirconium silicates. One such material (AV-13, Inorg. Chim Acta, 356: 19, 2003), in a modified form, was eventually explored by the US company ZS Pharma, now part of AstraZeneca, to treat a medical condition known as hyperkalemia (excess K+ in serum). The new drug Lokelma (oral intake) has been approved by FDA and the EMA and is expected to be on the market this year.



Teaching Activity

At present, João is on sabbatical leave. Normally he lectures on Inorganic and Materials Chemistry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy.

Present Research Group