With the support of the Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry Program, Professor Clause F. Bernasconi, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is exploring structure-activity relationships in carbanion forming reactions. His studies focus on the deprotonation of Fischer-type carbene complexes, which offer stabilization of both the neutral carbene (through electron donation) and the corresponding anion (through delocalization). The complex interplay between electron donating and electron withdrawing groups, which leads to unusual reactivity patterns, is being explored through a combination of experimental and computational methods.
Carbanions are negatively charged molecules that are of central importance in organic and organometallic chemistry. They can be generated by a number of reactions, including, perhaps most commonly, the removal of a proton from a molecule ("deprotonation"). In some cases, the resulting carbanion is sufficiently stable to allow its observation, permitting the measurement of its properties and thereby yielding important information about reaction mechanisms. Professor Claude F. Bernasconi, of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is studying such carbanion forming reactions with the support of the Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry Program. His studies address fundamental questions about chemical reactions and how they are affected by molecular structure, and in addition provide students with a broad educational experience, ranging from synthesis and spectroscopic characterization to kinetics, data analysis, and computational chemistry.