Molecular Synthesis and Catalysis

Molecular synthesis and catalysis encompasses the synthesis and characterisation at ambient and extreme conditions of organic and inorganic compounds, including those with application in homogeneous catalysis, nanotechnology, supramolecular chemistry, drug discovery and ligand design. The development of innovative synthetic and characterisation methodologies (particularly in structural chemistry) is a key feature.

Research covers a wide range of synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry, with a significant strength in catalysis. Recent senior (Lloyd-Jones, Nolan, Vogt) and junior (Cazin, Cowley, Inglis, Kay, Schneider, Shaver, Thomas) appointments have particularly strengthened activities related to the synthesis and reactivity of organic and inorganic compounds (Arnold, Cowley, Kilian, Lloyd-Jones, Love, Woollins) in homogeneous catalysis (Cazin, Clarke, Cole-Hamilton, Kamer, Nolan, Schneider, Shaver, Thomas, Vogt, Westwood), to complement activities in organocatalysis (Philp, Smith) and supramolecular chemistry (Cockroft, Lusby).  Structure-informed research on, and dynamic approaches to, large single molecule magnets, luminescent molecules, and functional nanomolecules (Brechin, Kay, Slawin, Inglis) have also advanced through recent appointments.
Major research successes during REF2014 in homogenous and organo-catalysis have resulted in the recent EPSRC Catalysis Critical Mass (£3 M), and EU ITN (€1.5 M) awards, generating a catalysis hub for the North of the UK. This is enhanced through intellectual interaction with SASOL Technology UK.

Research Highlights since 2008

More than 100 papers have been published in the top journals (as defined above) during the REF2014 period. Major contributions have been made to the general synthesis of biaryls using gold catalysts (Lloyd-Jones, Science 2012) and to the chemistry of f-block elements, including the first covalent bond formation of the uranyl oxo group (Arnold, Love, Nature 2008). Other highlights include the delineation of design principles for magnetic cryocooling (Brechin, ACIE 2012) and the development of efficient and general NHC-supported catalysts for hydrocarbon transformations (Nolan, JACS 2009).