Dr McLachlan's research is the synthesis of three dimensionally periodic macroporous solids, specifically a class of materials referred to as synthetic opals. These materials posses a periodic arrangement of pores on a length scale which can be controllably altered from tens to hundreds of nanometres. It is this property which presents exciting potential for use as nanoscale templates - this theme is central to all of the research areas in which he is currently involved.In his current research he is investigating two specific areas where the incorporation of nanostructured materials should have a significant impact. One area is the developing field of renewable energy, He is investigating the synthesis of organic and hybrid organic/inorganic photovoltaic devices. The structure formed by the templating approach theoretically should permit a marked increase in the efficiency in these devices. The materials challenges of this project lie in tuning the properties of the components of the photovoltaic device – he believe that the synthetic strategy employed offers this control.The second major area in which his current interest lies is the use of synthetic opals to form photonic crystals, again using the template directed synthesis. By forming devices which can predictably alter their properties as a response to external stimuli the properties of the device can be controllably altered. By investigating response to chemical, electrical or magnetic stimuli it will be possible to form nanostructured devices which can be used as sensors and simple switches. He maintain a strong research interest in the synthesis of the colloidal building blocks used in the formation of the synthetic opals, the common link between all of his research interests.