Modern Alchemy for Industrial Commodity Chemical and Pharmaceutical Synthesis

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 201 (Hynes Convention Center)
Paul J. Chirik , Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

The quality of life we currently enjoy relies on approximately 80 elements on the periodic table. As most of these elements as scarce, there is considerable motivation to develop industrial processes that rely only on earth-abundant materials. My lecture will focus on the reliance of precious transition metals such as iridium, rhodium and platinum for the synthesis of every day consumer goods such as silicone elastomers, adhesives, pharmaceuticals and shampoos. Because the catalyst often remains in the final product, a considerable amount of these rare metals are lost and leached into the environment. Our research group has focused on developing replacing these metals more environmentally benign and inexpensive iron, manganese and cobalt compounds. Our strategy has focused on so-called “redox-active ligands” – those that undergo reversible electron transfer with the metal. This concept is used to suppress the radical chemistry of the base metals and “transmute” the electronic structure of the first row ions into those more familiar with the heavy metals. Applications such as industrial hydrosilylation, asymmetric olefin hydrogenation will be discussed.