Organic molecules underpin all life on Earth, medicine and modern technology. Unfortunately, the synthesis of organic molecules is very often wasteful, expensive and toxic for both people and the environment.
Our group works on inventing and understanding new ways to manipulate and build up organic molecules in cheaper and more sustainable ways, in line with Green Chemistry principles. For example, we are working on catalytic C–H functionalisation processes that directly add functional groups to organic molecules in the just one step, producing much less waste than conventional approaches.
By one estimate, solvent use accounts for up to 85% of waste produced in the course of organic synthesis. We are investigating reactions for building up functional molecules that work entirely without solvent. We aim to find out when and how they can be made to work for different applications.
We also investigate the mechanisms of the reactions we develop so that they can be fine-tuned, and we have plans to extend the reactivity of arynes and boronates in new directions so they can be used as more versatile building blocks from which very diverse molecules can be made expediently.