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Stereochemical Evolution and Catalyst Discovery for Asymmetric Synthesis (RICHARDSCU20SF)

School of Chemistry

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Dr C Richards No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Small molecule catalysts are transforming synthetic chemistry by enabling the rapid, efficient and sustainable generation of target compounds. These compounds in turn find application in numerous fields including material science, and the discovery and manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Limiting further development of this area is the frequently ad hoc nature of catalyst discovery and optimisation, with methods typically requiring the time consuming and non-systematic generation and testing of multiple catalyst variants.

This PhD project will exploit an alternative approach involving stereochemical evolution. Here the cooperative nature of the binary information defined by the configuration of two or more elements of chirality will be established by sequential chirality addition. Testing and then selecting the better catalyst in each generation is anticipated to result in rapid evolution of the required characteristics. This project will exploit this approach with the discovery of metal-based catalysts for application in asymmetric synthesis. Exemplification of the new technology will include the synthesis of potentially bioactive compounds for use in drug discovery programmes.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is 1 October 2020.

The mode of study is full-time. The studentship length is 3 years with a 1-year registration period.

Please note: Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in Chemistry.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) Catalyst Optimisation for Asymmetric Synthesis by Ligand Chirality Element Addition – A Perspective on Stereochemical Cooperativity.
C. J. Richards and R. A. Arthurs, Chem. Eur. J. 2017, 48, 11460.

ii) Deuterium as a Stereochemically Invisible Blocking Group for Chiral Ligand Synthesis.
R. A. Arthurs and C. J. Richards, Org. Lett. 2017, 19, 702.

iii) Stereoselective and Stereospecific Reactions of Cobalt Sandwich Complexes. Application to the Synthesis of a New Class of Single Enantiomer Bulky Planar Chiral P-N and P-P Ligands.
R. A. Arthurs, P. N. Horton, S. J. Coles and C. J. Richards Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 4310.

iv) Enantiopure Planar Chiral and Chiral-at-Metal Iridacycles Derived from Bulky Cobalt Sandwich Complexes.
R. A. Arthurs, C. C. Prior, D. L. Hughes, V. S. Oganesyan and C. J. Richards, Organometallics 2018, 37, 4204.

v) Application of Transmetalation to the Synthesis of Planar Chiral and Chiral-at-Metal Iridacycles.
R. A. Arthurs, D. L. Hughes, P. N. Horton, S. J. Coles and C. J. Richards, Organometallics 2019, 64, 1099.
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