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A mechanism-guided approach to improving catalytic amine formation based on multi-nuclear operando FlowNMR

Project Description

The University of Bath is inviting applications for the following PhD project based in the Department of Chemistry under the supervision of Dr Ulrich Hintermair.


In this project we will use the operando FlowNMR spectroscopic capabilities of Bath’s DReaM Facility to gain fundamental insights into the mechanisms of homogeneously catalysed amine formation reactions including imine reduction, reductive amination, and H2-borrowing amination mediated by chiral organometallic complexes of Ru, Rh and Ir. All of these are highly relevant to the synthesis of amine functionalities in the fine chemical industry, but often suffer from limited efficiency due to insufficient mechanistic understanding.

The core of our approach will be to correlate product formation kinetics (analysed over the course of the reaction via RPKA methods) with catalyst speciation profiles acquired via advanced 1D and 2D heteronuclear NMR techniques under the same conditions. As the steady-state distribution of catalytic intermediates reflects the individual rate constants within the cycle, a wholistic mechanistic picture may thus be obtained. Polarisation and saturation exchange techniques will be used to probe interconversion dynamics that serve to position each observed intermediate in the cycle, distinguishing productive in-cycle intermediates from dormant off-cycle species. Another focus will lie on detecting and characterising novel transient species in-situ and quantifying the amount of dissolved H2 and NH3 in solution. All this information together with insights into activation and inhibition/deactivation pathways will allow the rational development of improved protocols and precursors with increased efficiency. Our industrial partner Syngenta will be supplying industrial background knowledge and research materials, and offer research placements and training opportunities for the student at their R&D site in Jealotts Hill.

This will be a multidisciplinary project where the student will gain experience in a variety of areas including analytical chemistry, physical-organic chemistry, kinetics, and synthetic organometallic chemistry. Our Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies will provide additional support and training opportunities, including public engagement and outreach activities.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Ulrich Hintermair: .

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020.

Funding Notes

It is hoped that funding will be secured for a 4-year iCASE studentship with Syngenta covering UK/EU tuition fees, a stipend and a generous budget for research and training expenses. UK and EU citizens who have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship are eligible to apply. This advertisement will be updated when confirmation of funding has been received. Interested candidates are invited to contact the lead supervisor for more information.

We also welcome year-round applications from applicants who can fund their own studies or secure their own external funding.

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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