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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G013470/1
Title: Mechanistic Insights into Organocatalytic Processes
Principal Investigator: Armstrong, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Kogelbauer, Dr A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Dept of Chemistry
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 08 January 2009 Ends: 07 October 2012 Value (£): 457,480
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Physical Organic Chemistry
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Sep 2008 Physical Organic Chemistry Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The use of small organic molecules as catalysts (known as organocatalysis ) is currently attracting intense interest. These systems have the advantage that they avoid the use of potentially toxic metal catalysts and that useful chemical reactions can often be performed under mild conditions without the need for rigorous exclusion of air or water. They also often allow us to control which mirror image form (or enantiomer ) of a molecule is synthesized, which is a crucial requirement for pharmaceutical synthesis. Overall, therefore, they offer the possibility of easier, cleaner, more efficient ( greener ) syntheses of many very important types of compound. Despite the multitude of reactions that have been studied in the laboratory, we do not understand exactly how many of these catalysts work. In particular, many papers have been published claiming beneficial effects of changes of reaction conditions or the inclusion of additives in reactions (for example, water, acids or bases). In this project, we will try to greatly improve our understanding of how these reactions are catalyzed. We will measure the rates of chemical reactions ( chemical kinetics ) using an in situ technique pioneered by one of the applicants, and combine these results with information from spectroscopic and computational methods. We will focus on a reactions which involve additions to carbon-oxygen and carbon-carbon double bonds ( conjugate addition processes ), including the synthesis of aziridines, strained three-membered rings containing nitrogen which are highly valuable building blocks for pharmaceutical synthesis. These studies will lead us into the study of more complex reaction systems aimed at understanding reactions involving more than one catalyst or reaction step, and particularly autocatalytic reactions , ones where the reaction product catalyses its own formation. These reactions have important implications for understanding how life might have originated, as well as in suggesting new and more efficient chemical catalysts.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk