My group’s chemistry is focused on developing and understanding catalytic chemical transformations. The ability to streamline the efficiency of current and future industrial catalytic processes is a key element in societies’ reduction of energy usage for a greener future. This research field encompasses more traditional redox active metal based catalysis to recently developed Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) catalysis. In particular I am interested in accessing alternate reaction pathways and reaction products through the use of Z-type ligands (electron pair acceptors) and carbocation Lewis acids
1. Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) Small molecule activation and catalysis
The emergence of Frustrated Lewis Pairs (FLPs) has led to the activation of small molecules using group 13 and 15 centres. This chemistry has been developed into useful chemical transformations, where the group 15 molecule has been transformed (Figure 1). I am currently exploring catalytic reactivity of customised FLPs.
Figure 1. Imine hydrogenation catalysed by a Frustrated Lewis Pair (see: Org. Biomol. Chem., 2008, 6, 1535).
2. Carbon-boron activation chemistry
Carbon-carbon coupling reactions are seen as fundamental towards building complex organic motifs, and are a foundation of organic chemistry. Increasingly, inorganic chemists are developing catalytic C-C bond forming reactions that are proving to be more efficient and economical in generating a range of organic compounds. A number of these reactions rely upon transmetallation. For example, the Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling reaction (Figure 2). This reaction is already used industrially as a convenient route to high demand commercial chemicals such as biaryls and polyaryls. My research interests lie in exploring the activation chemistry of carbon-boron bonds to better understand the mechanism of transmetallation.
Figure 2. Left – Suzuki-Miyaura Coupling mechanism (see: J. Organomet. Chem., 1999, 576, 147).