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Research Fellows Directory

Matthew Gaunt

Professor Matthew Gaunt

Research Fellow


University of Cambridge

Research summary

Methods that enable the practical and selective functionalization of inert aliphatic CH bonds have synthetic applications in fields that range from fine chemical production to drug discovery. Transition metal catalysis has emerged as a powerful tool to activate these traditionally unreactive CH bonds. Among a number of key conceptual advances, several classes of functional group can direct CH activation via a process called cyclometallation; coordination of the metal centre to a Lewis basic heteroatom within the directing motifs steers the catalyst into position where CH bond cleavage is engaged. Reaction of the resulting C-metal bond with an external reagent leads to an overall transformation that sees a CH bond converted into a versatile motif. Cyclometallation has led to a number of useful catalytic CH bond functionalization processes that have expanded the synthetic chemists toolbox of available reactions. Over the past decade, chemists have found ways to enable cyclometallation in hydrocarbons displaying carboxylic acid, hydroxyl groups, and derivatives of these common motifs. Given the utility and application of aliphatic amines, it is surprising they are seldom employed in CH functionalization reactions, especially considering that the nitrogen motif is an excellent coordinating group for transition metals. The overarching aim of our research is to establish a road map for CH activation reactions and to demonstrate that this strategy can be translated in viable applications that have impact on society. CH activation is the future of chemical synthesis and this proposal provides part of the road map that will help the community achieve this ideal

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Catalytic C–H bond activation of aliphatic amines

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Dates: May 2015 - Apr 2020

Value: £65,000

Synergistic Catalysis: A New Concept for Chemical Synthesis

Scheme: International Incoming Fellowships

Dates: Jan 2008 - Jan 2009

Value: £27,300

Enantioselective Organocatalysis

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2004 - Sep 2009

Value: £254,172.31

Enantioselective Organocatalysis

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2004 - Sep 2009

Value: £254,172.31

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