Research Fellows Directory
Professor Eva Hevia
University of Strathclyde
One of the main missions for synthetic chemists is to improve the catalogue of reagents available, searching for new compounds that can offer enhanced reactivities but also superior selectivities and compatibility with a wide range of different substrates. In organometallic chemistry, organolithium reagents constitute one of the most important reagents in synthesis as reflected by that fact that it is estimated that 95% of the drugs manufactured in the pharmaceutical industry involve the use of these reagents at one or more steps in their synthesis. They exhibit high reactivities, however their main limitation is their frequent lack of compatibility with many common organic functional groups.
Currently we are investigating the development of an alternative type of reagent to conventional organolithium reagents, namely mixed magnesium-zinc reagents (Mg-Zn hybrids), prepared by combining two important families of classical organometallic reagent: polar hard organomagnesium and non-polar soft organozinc compounds. By using this mixed-metal approach we instil into these compounds a new cooperative set of chemical properties and reactivity profiles, which extend beyond the confines of traditional monometallic chemistry. A key aspect of the project is to screen the reactivity of these hybrids in fundamental organic reactions not only stoichiometrically, but also catalytically, by importing the high reactivity of organomagnesium reagents into organozinc reagents endowed with high functional group tolerance. From an economic and “green” point of view, the use of inexpensive and environmentally benign inorganic salts such as MgCl2 or ZnCl2 as catalysts can have a global impact in the long term future, in order to expedite the commercial applications of these new reagents. Advances in the catalytic aspects of the project should lead to potentially new synthetic methodologies that will reduce energy consumption, and waste compared to industrial stoichiometric applications.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)