Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Bath
Dates: Jan 2012-Dec 2016
Summary: The main focus of my research group is the development of new catalytic methods for the construction of useful chemical groups. The use of a catalyst often allows reactions to be performed with greater control of selectivity, meaning that the desired product is more likely to be formed. In addition, catalysts lower the energy required to construct molecules which means that the environmental impact of catalysed reactions is usually lower than for conventional methods. The formation of amides has been a project of particular recent interest. The amide bond is a robust chemical group found in polymers such as Kevlar and Nylon, as well as in many natural products (e.g proteins) and pharmaceutical and agrochemical agents. We hope that our new catalytic methods will enable others to construct the molecules that they need under mild reaction conditions and with good control of chemical selectivity. During the start of my Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award, I have been able to start new projects using a new approach to catalysis, where transition metals can activate aromatic compounds in novel ways. Catalytic activation of aromatic compounds has usually involved the insertion of metals into carbon-hydrogen or carbon-halide bonds. Our approach has been to use catalysts to activate other groups attached to the arene to activate the compounds remotely. Again, we hope that the new methodology will enable other people to make their compounds more efficiently.