Research topics in the Garden Group
Our research combines different fields of chemistry including organometallic synthesis, catalyst development and sustainable polymer materials. Our work focuses on the development of homogeneous catalyst systems for the polymerisation of renewable feedstocks. We are particularly interested in the design of synergic heterometallic catalysts that display enhanced activities and selectivities.
Polymerisation catalyst design
While societal reliance on plastics is continuously increasing, only a small proportion of synthetic polymers are produced sustainably and most rely on diminishing petrochemical feedstocks. Two possible solutions involve the use of renewable monomers and the design of more efficient catalyst systems. In our lab, we focus on both aspects and work towards development of novel polymerisation catalysts for renewable monomers such as carbon dioxide. Specifically, we take advantage of the ligand design, and the emerging concept of bimetallic and heterometallic cooperativity, to produce new catalysts and sustainable polymer materials.
Cooperative heterometallic complexes
When two different metal centres are connected through a bridging heteroatom within a molecular environment, electronic and chemical communication between the two metals occurs. This connectivity can alter the Lewis acidity of the metal centres, and such heterometallic species often display different chemical reactivity compared to the homometallic analogues, leading to new properties such as enhanced catalyst activities. We are currently exploring the synthesis of heterometallic complexes for polymerisation catalysis and for the deprotonative metallation of organic substrates.