This research award in the Inorganic, Bioinorganic and Organometallic Chemistry program supports work by Professor Dean M. Roddick at the University of Wyoming to carry out fundamental studies on the coordination properties and catalytic activity of new classes of fluorinated transition metal compounds. Exceptionally active olefin oligomerization platinum catalysts have been identified. Expansion of this chemistry to related platinum, palladium, and nickel systems provides a new approach to the efficient synthesis of olefin-derived products. The chemistry of novel acceptor pincer complexes of platinum, iridium, and ruthenium provides a foundation for the development of new, more active alkane dehydrogenation and hydrogen transfer catalysts.
New catalysts and approaches to the conversion of simple olefins to complex products (polymers, plastics, etc.) impact a large cross section of chemical industry. The development of efficient approaches to selective hydrocarbon chemistry remains a primary modern challenge, and has critical ramifications in the creation of major chemical feedstocks in a post-fossil fuel world economy.
The Project Outcomes of our NSF-funded research are in two primary areas. First, building upon earlier seminal results in polymerization catalysis, we have demonstrated the generality of a new class of platinum-based molecular catalysts for the efficient conversion of ethylene to butane products. The key findings of this work are (1) An expansion of the known range of efficient catalysts to include platinum phosphine systems, and (2) A broader interpretation of the critical factors necessary for catalytic efficiency in nickel, palladium, and platinum alkene oligomerization catalysis. We anticipate that expanding the current paradigm for late transition metal catalysis beyond nitrogen- and oxygen-based ligand research will lead to significant advances in this critically important field. The second major area of our research concerns the development of new fluorinated molecular catalysts for hydrocarbon conversion chemistry. We have demonstrated two important advances in this field. First, highly active iridium catalysts have been prepared which have unprecedented air and moisture stability. With further refinement, this new class of catalysts may lead to practical and selective hydrocarbon dehydrogenation chemistry. Second, we have demonstrated the first highly active hydrocarbon dehydrogenation catalysts based on the non-precious metal ruthenium. Future work addressing limited catalyst stability should afford to a new generation of state-of-the-art hydrogen transfer catalysts with important applications in our future hydrogen economy.