Research Interests

The study of organometallic chemistry, an area that bridges inorganic and organic disciplines, has found remarkable utility in many diverse applications. Organometallic compounds themselves, which consist of metals bonded to organic groups, can teach us a great deal about fundamental bonding properties. The effect that binding an organic group to a metal has on that organic fragment’s reactivity can be exploited in developing new catalysts for organic reactions. When it is difficult to study the reaction of a molecule on a metal surface in a heterogeneous catalyst system, it may be possible to infer how the reaction is taking place by studying suitably designed organometallic compounds as models. In our group, we try to take advantage of many of these properties of organometallic systems to study fundamental reaction chemistry, to design novel catalyst systems, and to use organometallic compounds as precursors to more complex materials. The following are highlights of some of our research areas.

Breaking B-H, C-H, N-H, and O-H Bonds with Iridium

In many commercial catalyst systems, the addition of H2 to a metal followed by transfer to an unsaturated organic molecule is an important step. It would be a powerful addition to the arsenal of chemical reactions if catalysts could be developed that could add not only H-H but also B-H, C-H, N-H, and O-H to organic unsaturates. We have been exploring the fundamental chemistry of iridium with the goal of developing such catalysts. The first step toward realizing this goal was to find suitable iridium complexes that could add these bonds. In every case, we have demonstrated that we could indeed carry out such additions with the example of a C-H addition shown below.

Click HERE to view the crystal structure of the product.

The next step in this process is to find out what unusual chemistry the B, C, N, and O groups will have when bonded to the iridium. We are just scratching the surface of this work, but the potential for new and exciting chemistry is shown by the further reaction of the furan iridium complex.

Click HERE to view the crystal structure of the product.

A very exciting feature of this reaction is that an insertion into a metal-carbon bond has taken place in preference to insertion into a metal-hydrogen bond.

Metal Amino Acid Chemistry