New Applications of Transition Metals in Visible-Light Photocatalysis

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford


This project falls within the EPSRC Synthetic Organic Chemistry research area.
In recent years, visible light mediated catalysis has redefined the way in which we envisage synthetic photochemistry. The high degree of versatility and tunability of catalysts has enabled the discovery of new modes of reactivity that have allowed organic chemists to achieve novel disconnections in the synthesis of complex molecules including fine chemicals and natural products. Moreover, technological developments including cheap and energy efficient LEDs have made visible light photochemistry easy to carry out without the need for specialised equipment. To further extend the versatility of this mode of catalysis, chemists have employed dual catalytic systems. Such an approach generally involves a photo-catalyst facilitating electron transfer whilst acting in concert with a metal catalyst to enable the formation of a desired chemical bond. This approach has enabled the discovery of new modes of reactivity that were previously inaccessible.
This project aims to discover new photochemical transformations mediated by transition metals to expand the portfolio of reactions available for the synthesis of agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and natural products. In first instance we intend to identify new modes of reactivity using cheap, earth abundant transition metals such as copper.
We aim to develop reactions that can be performed in the absence of an exogenous photo-catalyst, where the transition metal employed can perform both the absorption of light and the formation and breaking of chemical bonds. Such a method will be desirable as it would mitigate the need for expensive metals such as iridium and ruthenium which are commonly employed in these transformations. Our aim is to expand the scope of such reactions by focusing on formation carbon-carbon bonds as they represent the basic building blocks of organic molecules.


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Description Computational investigation into visible light photochemical transformations 
Organisation Colorado State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The purpose of this collaboration (with Prof. Robert Paton) is to investigate transformations developed in our laboratory using computational techniques. My contributions involve construction of theoretical models using Density Functional Theory (DFT) and guiding experimental transformations based on the proposed theoretical models.
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators have helped us by analysing our theoretical models and by investigating alternative models for more challenging transformations.
Impact The collaboration is ongoing and no major outputs or outcomes are available as of yet.
Start Year 2019