Worcester State University Professor of Chemistry Margaret Kerr

Kerr’s Collaborative Project on Cp*Ir Catalysts Accepted for Publication

April 1, 2016
By: Worcester State University News

Margaret Kerr (Chemistry) spent her sabbatical (summer-fall 2016) collaborating with Dr. Marion Emmert at WPI working on a project using Cp*Ir catalysts to activate C-H bonds. The result of this collaboration resulted in a paper titled “Non-Directed, Carbonate-Mediated C-H Activation and Aerobic C H Oxygenation with Cp*Ir Catalysts,” which has been accepted for publication in the international journal for inorganic, organometallic, and bioinorganic chemistry, Dalton Transactions.

Currently, most organic molecules are derived from crude oil and natural gas feedstocks. Transformations of hydrocarbons into functionalized molecules has been a very important field in chemistry. These transformations are complicated, owing to the relative inertness of feedstocks, particularly saturated hydrocarbons. Development in this area is necessary to discover new routes from hydrocarbons to valuable products such as alcohols, ketones, acids, and peroxides. Many current methods to functionalize these molecules are useful, but can be highly wasteful owing to the number of steps involved.

One holy grail of C-H activation research is not simply to find new C-H activation reactions, but to obtain an understanding of them that will allow the development of reagents capable of selective transformations of C-H bonds into more reactive functionalized molecules. Catalytic C-H functionalization has the potential to greatly contribute to the principles of green chemistry by reducing waste, increasing atom economy and using catalysis in place of stoichiometric reagents. The long-term goal of this project is to establish a series of catalysts for non-directed C-H activations by gaining understanding of the selectivity- and reactivity-determining factors of catalysis with simple substrates, such as arenes using air as an oxidant.

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