Research Areas

Ligand Design for Green Chemistry and Homogeneous Catalysis

Since a breakthrough in 2008 on the discovery of catalysts that utilize iron for the reduction of polar bonds, our lab has been focused on producing catalysts based on this benign metal that are complexed with organic compounds. These new iron compounds may replace industrial scale catalysts based on toxic, rare and expensive metals such as ruthenium, rhodium or palladium that are used in the pharmaceutical, fragrances and flavours industry. Our current generation of iron catalysts are extremely active, surpassing the activity of precious metal catalysts.You can also view a high-res photo of the below image here.


W. Zuo, A. J. Lough, Y. F. Li, R. H. Morris, "Amine(imine)diphosphine Iron Catalysts for Asymmetric Transfer Hydrogenation of Ketones and Imines" Science 2013, 342, 1080-1083. 10.1126/science.1244466

News articles:
"Abundant Metals Give Precious Hydrogenation Performance", "Base metal catalysts strike hydrogenation gold"


Organometallic Catalysts for Renewable Energy

Finding alternatives to a carbon-based energy economy is a pressing need for humanity. A recent report in Science (2009) from David Milstein's group at the Weizmann Institute of Science has shown that ruthenium compounds of a type very similar to ones studied in our lab are able to photochemically split water into hydrogen and oxygen. We have initiated the study of other ruthenium and iron complexes that might also have these properties and that are more practical for such a process. This research could be tied to the solar materials and energy emphasis of our chemistry department that involves several high profile researchers. The study of new water splitting compounds could be studied in detail by the exceptional laser spectroscopists of our department.

D. E. Prokopchuk, A. Collado, A. J. Lough, R. H. Morris, "Structural properties of trans hydrido–hydroxo M(H)(OH)(NH2CMe2CMe2NH2)(PPh3)2 (M = Ru, Os) complexes and their proton exchange behaviour with water in solution" Dalton Trans. 2013, 10.1039/C3DT50452B


D. E. Prokopchuk, B. T. H. Tsui, A. J. Lough, R. H. Morris, "Intramolecular C-H/O-H Bond Cleavage with Water and Alcohol Using a Phosphine-Free Ruthenium Carbene NCN Pincer Complex" Chem. Eur. J. 10.1002/chem.201404819

News article: "Phosphine-Free Ruthenium Complex for Water Splitting"