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Non-covalent catalysis

Our group’s research focusses on incorporating non-covalent interactions into catalyst structure to exert control over various aspects of selectivity in chemical reactions, such as regioselectivity, site-selectivity and enantioselectivity. Non-covalent interactions play fundamentally important roles in the mechanisms of enzyme catalysis and form the basis of the field of Supramolecular chemistry. Over the last 20 years, synthetic chemists have begun to realise how powerful they can be in the context of small molecule organocatalysis and numerous advances in this area have occurred, mostly for control of enantioselectivity in two-electron processes.

At present, we have two main research directions:

1. Design of novel multi-functional ligands for transition metals which, through interaction of the ligand with the substrate, enable control or regioselectivity or site-selectivity in the ensuing chemical reaction. This is particularly relevant in the area of C-H bond activation where there are numerous reactivity modes available but one of the outstanding challenges in the field is control of the position of reaction.

2. Application of non-covalent catalysis to control enantioselectivity in radical reactions. Radical chemistry is undergoing a resurgence due to the growing use of photoredox catalysis to enable facile radical generation and novel reactivity. One of the outstanding challenges in this area is how to control enantioselectivity in reactions where radical intermediates may be highly reactive, with fast reaction kinetics. We believe that non-covalent catalysis has unique potential to advance this area. More details to follow soon.

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