1) Organic Methods Development. This area of research will focus on manipulating chemical bonds with transition-metal complexes to develop new reactions that are synthetically and industrially useful. Not only is the group investigating new C-X bond coupling reactions (X = C, H, N, O, S), but we are also studying bond-breaking processes and atom transfer reactions as routes to target molecules. Students will learn to carefully design ligands for transition-metal complexes that will predispose the metal center to carry out a desired chemical transformation. In many cases, forcing a metal to adopt an unconventional geometry can lead to unusual reactivity, and we hope to be able to fine-tune such reactivity towards useful transformations. Click here for a PDF file containing detailed information about our development of paramagnetic nickel complexes for use in organic synthesis.

2) Synthetic Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry. Nowadays, the fields of organic and inorganic chemistry are intimately related. New catalysts must often be prepared under strict anaerobic conditions using traditional inorganic techniques. Additionally, support for a particular mechanism of a metal-mediated organic transformation is facilitated by preparing viable inorganic and organometallic intermediates and testing for their competency. Students will learn how to prepare new "inorganic functional groups" and explore the structures, properties, and reactivities of these new groups. Sometimes, completely new bonding modes of common atoms can be discovered, like this hydride ligand that displays linear bonding between two metal centers.

3) Fluorine Chemistry. Traditional medicinal chemistry was very much based on the use of natural products or closely related derivatives thereof. Because only a handful of naturally occurring organofluorines were (and still are) known to exist, the use of fluorinated compounds was extremely rare in early medicinal chemistry. This situation has changed quite dramatically over the last 20 years. Today, as many as 30-40% of agrichemicals and 20% of pharmaceuticals on the market are estimated to contain fluorine, including three of the top eight drugs sold in 2008. As developmental pipelines for new drugs are predicted to contain an even higher percentage of fluorinated molecules, developing better methods to prepare organofluorines are expected to be paramount to the health industry. Click here and here for representative papers on our efforts to use transition-metals to incorporate fluorine into organic molecules.

4) New electrochemical methods. Here we hope to understand how one-electron redox reactions can be used in developing new synthetic methodolgy (click here and here for examples).

A brand new research lab has been constructed, which includes a new X-ray Diffraction facility. Check back for new photos!