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Current Research

We are interested in the development of new synthetic methodology which will be of broad utility to a range of chemists and the application of this methodology to the synthesis of useful molecules. In particular we use transition metal catalysis to achieve outcomes that may not be accessible using more standard methods. Sustainability and practicality are important considerations at all stages of reaction development. We also have an interest in using physical organic and other techniques to establish mechanistic information about the new reactions we develop.

• Transition Metal Catalysis

We are interested in the catalytic chemistry of metals which promote unusual bond formations. Catalytic tandem reaction sequences which form multiple bonds to increase chemical complexity are of great interest to us. We often use chiral enantiopure catalysts to synthesise enantioenriched products by asymmetric catalysis.

• Organofluorine Chemistry

The abundance of fluorinated drugs currently available ensures that the development of new reactions for the safe, efficient and selective formation of new C-F bonds is of great interest. We examine the use of cheap and readily available fluoride salts in fluorination reactions. Currentl available reagents for electrophilic fluorination are too expensive for use on a large scale and we are focussing on catalytic strategies that permit the replacement of these reagents with fluoride salts. We are also interested in the synthesis of new agents for 18F PET - a modern imaging technique used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other disorders.

Previous Research Highlights

• Enantioselective Arylation of Alkenylheteroaromatics

(with Dr. Hon Wai Lam, University of Edinburgh)

Enantioselective Arylation of Alkenylheteroarenes

Alkenylheteroaromatics were shown to be valuable substrates for asymmetric conjugate addition processes, particularly in cases where a C=N unit, embedded in a heteroaromatic ring, was conjugated to an alkene. A highly enantioselective rhodium-catalysed arylation of 2-alkenylheteroarenes was developed using a new chiral diene ligand which provided an efficient route to enantioenriched heteroaromatic-containing compounds, which may be particularly valuable in the pharmaceutical industry.

• Perfluoroheteroaromatics as Scaffolds for Heterocycle Synthesis

(with Prof. Graham Sandford, Durham University)

Perfluoroheterocycles as Scaffolds for Heterocycle Synthesis

Perfluoroheteroaromatics such as pentafluoropyridine and tetrafluoropyridazine are a useful, yet understudied, class of heterocyclic compounds. They undergo highly efficient and regioselective reactions with a range of nucleophiles, allowing sequential and selective displacement of the fluorine atoms around the heterocyclic ring. Reactions were also examined with a range of dinucleophiles to synthesise a range of novel ring-fused systems which may be biologically active but are difficult to access by other methods.