The overall aim of the group is the development of new catalytic systems and achieving fundamental mechanistic understanding which allow the implementation of new environmentally benign, atom- and energy-efficient processes. The scope of these studies ranges from catalytic asymmetric transformations to metal-catalyzed C-H functionalization reactions. The following research areas are currently being investigated:
I. Metal-catalyzed C-H functionalization
The C-H bond is the most common chemical bond in organic compounds, and as such, is an ideal target for chemical transformations. Certainly, direct and selective C-H functionalization has become a highly attractive strategy to approach green, clean and efficient transformations. Although C-H bonds are usually unreactive, recently, transition metal catalyzed C-H activation has become a powerful method to construct carbon-heteroatom and carbon-carbon bonds.
Even though significant advances to this field have been reported during the past decade, many challenges still remain. This research line focuses on the discovery of novel metal-catalysed C-H functionalization reactions. In this regard, examples of the functionalization of non-activated C(sp³)-H bonds is still rare in comparison with C(sp²)-H activation. Thus, current efforts are focussed towards the development of new methodologies for the direct functionalization of non-activated C(sp³)-H bonds.
II. Mechanistic studies
This research line involves mechanistic studies on metal-catalyzed C-H functionalization. These include spectroscopic studies to elucidate the structure of the organometallic species involved in the transformations; computational studies to rationalize structural aspects of reactive intermediates; and kinetics studies to gain insights into the rate limiting step. This research line will allow us to discover new active catalysts for metal-catalyzed C-H functionalization.
III. Ligand accelerate C-H activation
Ligand design and development has been the main driving force behind the rapid progress seen in homogeneous catalysis in the past decades. Ligands can influence the selectivity of a process and provide rate acceleration. Despite recent progress in metal-catalyzed C-H functionalization, many challenges remain to be solved, such as narrow substrate scopes and harsh reaction conditions. To address these challenges, our approach is to develop novel ligands capable of accelerating/promoting C-H bond cleavage, which is typically the rate-limiting and selectivity-determining step of the reaction.
IV. Asymmetric Catalysis
As a quest from pharmaceutical, flavours and fragrances, and agrochemical industries for enantiopure molecules, the discovery of novel, efficient chiral transition metal catalysts is an on-going effort since the past 40 years. In this regard, in 2001, the pioneering work of Knowles, Noyori, and Sharpless in the development of catalytic asymmetric synthesis was awarded Nobel Prize, highlighting the importance of chiral synthesis in chemistry. Thus, our efforts are directed towards the development of novel and efficient chiral transformation for the synthesis of high value chiral molecules.