Designing and applying in situ analysis to enable chemical discovery.
Our research is focused on the discovery, design and study of new organometallic and organocatalytic reactions. In particular, we are interested in investigating complex systems where multiple pathways compete, partitioning the active catalyst among many possible pathways. This work leads to a deeper understanding of these systems, allowing better catalysts to be created and more efficient chemical manufacturing processes to be developed.
To accomplish these goals, tools from both classical and modern physical organic chemistry are employed. A key component of our studies involves the application of multiple, orthogonal, in-situ monitoring techniques (such as NMR spectroscopy, reaction calorimetry, UV-V is spectroscopy and ReactIR) to rapidly profile the reactions under study. This provides a practical kinetic picture of the catalytic cycle, allowing both detrimental and acceleratory pathways to be elucidated and studied under “real world” reaction conditions.
In concert with our academic and industrial partners, we are developing an intelligent synthetic platform to automate the development of small molecule target compounds. This technology platform at the intersection of AI, synthetic organic chemistry, and advanced laboratory robotics has immediate implications in drug discovery, materials science, and beyond.
Through a combination of kinetic studies and in-situ reaction monitoring, we are able to look inside catalytic cycles to elucidate the underpinning reaction mechanisms of every step. Advances in the understanding of these complex mechanisms inform efficient reaction optimization at a level of granularity not previously accessible. Learning from model compounds in the laboratory is transferred to industrially-important products and processes, improving the purity, increasing the yield and driving down the cost of chemical manufacturing.
We develop and apply a battery of complimentary orthogonal analytical techniques simultaneously to provide near real-time insight into complex reactions. From reaction calorimetry, to in-situ infrared spectroscopy, to online LC-MS, interrogation of synthetic reactions provides a rich dataset for interpretation and elucidation of novel mechanisms. Our group is constantly building on this toolset through the miniaturization and evolution of analytical techniques from a classical-single shot method to online continuous modes.