University of St Andrews
The field of homogeneous catalysis can be viewed as an area where tools to assemble small and complex molecules are conceived and developed. Catalysis chemists develop such tools for synthetic chemists to build complex molecules (pharmaceutical compounds, materials, fragrances, dyes, agrochemicals,…).
There are mainly 2 types of tools of interest:
Better tools that meet one or more of the following criteria: leading to reactions that require less time, that are less expensive, that require less energy, that generate less waste, that are less toxic, that use greener sources (as homogenous catalysis is closely related to environmentally-friendly, green chemistry) and tools that provide a synthetic pathway never before taken (hopefully simpler, safer, faster and better).
In our laboratories, we develop both types of tools:
1) The replacement of expensive and/or toxic catalysts (tools) by cheaper and more environmentally-friendly ones.
2) The replacement of expensive and/or toxic starting materials/solvents by cheaper and environmentally-friendly ones.
3) The development of atom-economical reactions, which means that all atoms from the reacting molecules are present in the product, hence minimising wastes.
4) Mechanistic studies. Such studies allow to gain understanding on the developed tools. They are meant to answer the question “how does it work?”. By obtaining such information, the developed tools can be further optimised and hence further improved.
In a word, our aim is to tackle the most important challenges of the chemical industry by developing systems that are more environmentally-friendly and economically advantageous compare to those used today. The goal of the reactions is to obtain value-added compounds that find applications in diverse areas, the most important one being the pharmaceutical industry.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)