With funding from the Chemical Synthesis Program of the Chemistry Division, Dr. Trevor Hayton of the University of California Santa Barbara is developing new methods for the synthesis of double and triple bonds ("M=E" bonds) between certain metals and nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur atoms. These new bonds are highly reactive and, consequently, they undergo unprecedented reaction chemistry with industrially useful chemicals, such as those that bear carbon-carbon double and triple bonds, nitric oxide, and carbon monoxide. However, because these molecules and bonds are so reactive, scientists do not fully understand how to make them selectively without making a large number of unwanted side products. In this project, Dr. Hayton is developing new chemical strategies to limit side reactions and form only the desired M=E bonds. With this high level of control, the reactivity of these bonds can be explored in a systematic way, opening the door to new catalytic transformations. Dr. Hayton is actively engaged in the mentoring of women and under-represented groups via the SoCal Organometallics (SCOM) meeting. By organizing and participating in this annual meeting, Dr. Hayton provides students with presentation and networking opportunities. Industry involvement at SoCal Organometallics also provides these students with access to potential employers.
Dr. Hayton is developing the "Reductive Deprotection" methodology for the synthesis of late metal-ligand multiple bonds, such as terminal sulfido complexes of copper and zinc, terminal oxo complexes of nickel, and terminal nitrido complexes of group 10 metals. Reductive deprotection involves the reductive removal of a protecting group from a chalcogen or pnictogen atom, unmasking a latent M=E bond. The target complexes allow them to quantify the extent of pi-bonding within the M=E linkage as they traverse the periodic table from Fe to Zn, giving chemists a better understanding of the "oxo wall" concept. Additionally, reactivity studies with alkenes, alkynes, NO, and CO reveal unprecedented small molecule transformations, opening the door to new catalytic reactivity with these industrially relevant substrates. This research provides excellent training to undergraduate and graduate students in the synthesis and characterization of air sensitive metal complexes, preparing them for careers in academia, industry, or the national laboratory system.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.