Sadow Group work is focused upon the development of new catalytic reactions and new catalysts for application in green chemistry, stereoselective synthesis, and the conversion of abundant raw materials into commodity and specialty chemicals. This work impacts energy sciences and chemical production. Our approach involves the design and study of main group, early transition-metal, and rare earth organometallic compounds as catalysts for transformations of polar, oxygen- or nitrogen-containing substrates. We study structure and reactivity through a combination of spectroscopy and kinetics to better understand catalytic reactions, the chemical properties that make a good catalysts, and to design new transformations.
Green Catalytic Chemistry
Early transition metal, rare earth, and main group organometallics provide new opportunities in catalytic conversion. These metal centers, such as magnesium(II), lanthanum(III), and zirconium(IV) form highly polar bonds with nitrogen, oxygen, and to some extent, carbon. Rich organometallic chemistry of such metal-carbon containing organometallic compounds are valuable in carbon-carbon bond forming chemistry, whereas the polarity of metal-nitrogen and particular metal-oxygen bonds might be limiting in catalytic chemistry. Still, catalysts based on these metal centers are desirable based on their abundance, cost, and toxicity. Moreover, these metal centers offer possibilities in complementary reactivity to first-row transition metal complexes and noble metal catalysts.
Hydroamination is the addition of N-H bonds and C=C bonds to give new N–C bonded products. This transformation is potentially useful in a number of applications, and requires a catalyst to control and mediate the transformation. A number of challenges face hydroamination, from the perspective of catalyst design, mechanism, and efficiency to application in commodity and fine chemical synthesis.
Divalent Rare Earth Chemistry
We have been synthesizing rare earth and main group alkyl compounds as catalyst precursors, and as catalysts in their own right. Unlike many transition metal complexes, main group and rare earth alkyl compounds containing β-H atoms (i.e., M–C–C–H) often resist β-H elimination that leads to metal-carbon bond cleavage.