"Polar organometallic chemistry provides an essential toolkit for transforming inert bonds into reactive bonds to make new compounds and materials. Very few aromatic molecules (e.g., pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, perfumes) are made without polar organometallic chemistry being practiced at some stage in their manufacture. Though this chemistry has a long and successful history, it is currently at an exciting crossroads in its development with seemingly impossible challenges within it now on the verge of becoming possible. This project is designed towards fundamentally reforming the practice of polar organometallic chemistry making it more air and moisture compatible, greener, more atom-economical and sustainable. Research will focus on the synthesis, cultivation and exploitation of new s-block metal multicomponent reagents made by co-complexation protocols. Preliminary work has shown that mixing different components within the same environment (for example, two distinct metal complexes; or one metal but with an assortment of ligands) can lead to useful synergistic effects not possible with unmixed systems. The scope of the chemistry and the ability to construct new compounds and new materials to meet societal needs are thus greatly broadened.
Based on earth-abundant metals, these co-complex reagents will be screened in key organic transformations, focusing on deprotonative metallation and metal-halogen exchange reactions as well as in tandem C-C bond forming methods (as an alternative to more expensive and less environmentally benign transition-metal-mediated approaches) targeting synthetically relevant organic substrates. Stoichiometric reactions will be upgraded to catalytic regimes to establish the ground rules for s-block synergistic catalysis focusing on intramolecular hydroamination reactions of a range of unsaturated molecules.
A key objective of the project is to pioneer and extend the use of multicomponent polar organometallic reagents in Deep Eutectic Solvents (DESs). These DESs will provide more cost-effective, greener and biorenewable reaction media to those volatile organic solvents (VOC's) in which most polar organometallic chemistry is carried out today. Progress in this aim will go a long way to eventually realising the impossible challenge in polar organometallic chemistry of synthesising and utilising chemoselective organometallic reagents under air and/or in aqueous media. Dispensing with the need for a dry inert atmosphere would have genuine worldwide implications for the practice of polar organometallic chemistry both in academia and industry."