Synthesis of novel ligands for biphasic media. Exploration of alterative reaction media, specifically those of water and ionic liquids for catalytic hydroformylation and hydrogenation reactions. Development of task specific ionic liquids. Developing new methodologies for undergraduate science education.
Synthesis of Environmentally Friendly Catalysts
Our laboratory is interested in the design and implementation of environmentally safe and efficient catalytic systems. Traditionally, industry conducts large-scale catalytic reactions within environmentally harmful organic solvents. Recently, the use of ionic liquids has received attention as an alternative media for biphasic catalytic reactions. These liquids are salts that melt at low temperatures (<100 C), have no appreciable vapor pressure, and possess excellent chemical stability. Many organic compounds have low solubility in ionic liquids making these systems biphasic and products easy to separate. Products that are soluble in the ionic media can be easily separated by distillation since the ionic liquids have virtually no vapor pressure.
Our interest within this field involves design of new ligands and catalysis to function specifically, and therefore more efficiently, within the ionic liquid media. Typically this involves grafting the same functionality of the ionic liquid onto one or more of the ligands surrounding the catalyst. Currently, we have applied this technology to the hydrogenation of polymers and hydroformylation of simple olefins.
Students involved these projects become exposed to organic synthesis, inorganic synthesis, modern instrumentation, polymers, ionic liquids, and catalysis.
Development of catalytic compounds containing N-heterocyclic carbene complexes
N-heterocyclic carbenes have received some attention in the literature as possible replacements for phosphine ligands in many catalytic reactions. These ligands coordinate about ten times more strongly than their phosphine analogs. This is important since in many catalytic reactions loss of the phosphine ligand is the most common way the catalytic cycle shuts down. However, this same effect also makes these ineffective ligands in traditional monomeric hydroformylation catalysts as such ligands also stabilize the coordination of carbon monoxide and thus shuts down the catalytic cycle.
We are currently investigating the use of -N-heterocyclic carbene complexes as ligands for both monomeric and dimeric rhodium complex systems. Thus far this ligand system has proven to be easily tunable both electronically and structurally, more stable, and easier to modify and their phosphine analogs.
Students involved these projects become exposed to ligand and catalyst design, organic synthesis, inorganic synthesis, modern instrumentation and catalysis.
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