Ligand design and new organometallic chemistry underpins all of our research. Catalyst performance is inevitably a sensitive function of the steric and electronic environment around the active metal centre, and creating ligands which control this environment is therefore crucial. All of our catalysts are themselves organometallic complexes, so understanding therefore fundamental structure and reactivity allows us to interpret and predict their catalytic performance. We routinely synthesise and structurally characterise new model complexes for the catalytically active species we discover.
A recent project has involved the design and synthesis of new types of strong sigma donor carbene ligands. Carbocyclic carbenes based on a cyclopropenylidene structure are extremely robust donor ligands and have shown promising results in C-C and C-N bond forming reactions. A new class of remotely-stabilised carbene ligand based on benzo[c]quinolin-6-ylidenes has even more potent donor properties.