N-Heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) are stable singlet carbenes that can act as excellent two electron donor ligands towards elements across the whole periodic table. They have received wide attention in transition metal chemistry and have a plethora of catalytic and biomedical applications. We have shown that electrochemical methodology can be used for the highly efficient synthesis of metal-NHCs.1-2 Our route surpasses traditional synthetic routes as it negates the need for strong bases, strict inert conditions, the employment of stoichiometric silver salts, and is compatible with a wide range of ligand functionalities, including base sensitive substituents. This project will involve the electrochemical flow synthesis of a wide range of metal-NHCs, and their application in catalytic processes of interest to industry and in anticancer applications. The work will focus on developing the methodology and technology for full processes, from syntheses from readily available precursors through to application and optimisation. The project is highly interdisciplinary, and will involve collaboration across industry, pharmacology (Professor of pharmacology Roger Phillips), and engineering (Prof. Nik Kapur and Dr Richard Bourne).
The student working on this project will gain skills in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry, catalysis, pharmacology, flow-chemistry and reaction engineering. In addition, a variety of analytical tools will be used including NMR and UV spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, LCMS, GC and X-ray crystallography. The industrial standard lab that is housed in the School of Chemistry at Leeds (iPRD) and the interdisciplinary research environment will provide a unique and relevant training environment for the student.
1. B. R. M. Lake, E. K. Bullough, T. J. Williams, A. C. Whitwood, M. A. Little and C. E. Willans, Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 4887. 2. E. K. Bullough, M. A. Little and C. E. Willans, Organometallics, 2013, 32, 570