We work closely with colleagues in all disciplines of catalysis. For industrial applications, we can also design molecular systems to simulate the reactivities of heterogeneous catalysts and synthesize well-defined organometallic precursors to prepare a new generation of heterogeneous catalysts. We have a full coverage of analytical tools (UV-vis, IR, ReactIR, GC/MS, LC/MS, NMR, Flash Photolysis, Stop-flow) to investigate the kinetics and mechanisms with a wide range of reaction time scale starting from nanoseconds. Combining experimental efforts and computational modelling through mechanistic understanding, we aim to accelerate the discovery of new catalysts with improved activities to address important issues in the fields of energy, synthesis, etc.
Carbon Dioxide Utilization
Carbon management is one of the major themes of research currently receiving much attention in the scientific community. Taking advantage of the current intensive efforts toward cheaper hydrogen production worldwide, we work on carbon dioxide hydrogenation reactions to selectively produce formic acid, methanol, dimetyl ether and other oxygenates.
Development of Novel Pincer Complexes
We are particularly interested in transition metal pincer complexes, as this class of complexes share useful features to allow their catalytic reactivity to be tuned by modifying the ancillary ligands, e.g. changing the donor atoms in the ligand backbone, and introducing heteroatoms as the linkers between the central groups and the donor ones. We have designed and prepared a series of transition metal catalysts based on a novel class of pincer-type PN3 ligands that are capable of interacting with the substrates during the reaction. Rich reactivities have been observed with their catalytic activities being explored recently. We have witnessed that the seemingly small change by replacing the CH2 spacer in the pyridine-based pincer complex with an NH group has dramatically influenced the thermodynamic and kinetic properties, and in some cases the catalytic behaviors of the corresponding metal complexes. It is conceivable that this new class of transition metal pincer complexes will offer exciting opportunities for the development of novel catalytic applications.
Organic Phase Transfer Catalysts
A new class of phase transfer catalysts based on pentanidium has been developed. Multi-dimensional spectroscopic techniques will be employed to gain a deeper understanding of this system and a new generation of catalysts are being prepared to extend the reaction scope.