Phosphine-Borane Dehydrocoupling: The Synthesis of Tailored New Materials through Mechanistic Studies of Catalytic Processes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Chemistry


Transition-metal-catalysed reactions the make or break C-C, C-H or C-X bonds are cornerstone in the synthesis of commodity/feedstock chemicals and fine-chemicals. The elucidation of mechanism for such processes has led to major breakthroughs of fundamental, commercial and societal importance (e.g. routes to new pharmaceuticals, polymer synthesis, the synthesis of new materials with exciting properties, more efficient and greener ways to construct new molecules). By contrast the development of analogous catalytic routes to prepare bonds between main-group elements is still nascent. This gap in knowledge/technology is remarkable given the potential that such routes would have for the synthesis of novel polymers, new materials, electronic devices as well as new organic methodology and the synthesis of biologically active molecules. Recently there has been intense interest in catalytic dehydrocoupling strategies for group 13/15 materials, prototypically H3B-NRRH and H3B-PRRH (R = alkyl, aryl, H) that are precursors for new hydrogen-delivery systems or novel polymeric materials. Group 13/15 polymers are relatively unexplored, yet are important as analogues of polymeric all-carbon systems that could potentially have technologically useful thermophysical, pre-ceramic and other useful materials properties. Remarkably, lacking is a unified mechanistic approach to the design of catalyst systems that allows for the bespoke production of such materials. In this project we will provide full mechanistic details for dehydrocoupling and use this knowledge to design, develop and implement catalyst systems that will generate new phosphine-borane (P/B) materials. Our goal is the targeted synthesis of well-defined novel monomeric, oligomeric and polymeric phosphine-boranes that will have significant potential for future technological applications.


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Description Important breakthroughs were made in terms of understanding the polymerization mechanism. We developed new polymers that may have useful applications. The publications arising from this grant are receiving very high levels of citation.
Exploitation Route The new polymers that we have developed may have useful applications as flame retardants and as functional polymers. We are interacting with a company that is interested in replacements for halogen-based flame retardants which are being phased out.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Other

Description The research has contributed to the global fundamental research database and has had considerable impact in this regard. We are also interacting with potential beneficiaries in terms of future exploitation of the work. One company is interested in the resulting polymers as flame retardant materials.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Other
Impact Types Economic