Université de Strasbourg


Axially Chiral Lewis Acids and Bases for Frustrated Lewis Pair-type Reactivity

USIAS Fellow: Armen Panossian

Although highly versatile and efficient in catalysis, transition metals suffer from costly supply, toxicity, trace persistence or unwanted overreactivity. These concerns already are and will become increasingly prominent, not only for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, but also as a major geostrategic issue due to the growing needs of rapidly developing vast countries. Nevertheless, transition metal catalysts remain unrivalled in some key reactions, such as asymmetric catalytic hydrogenation.

Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) chemistry has recently emerged as a potential alternative. FLPs are constituted of a Lewis acid and a Lewis base, which, instead of forming a classical Lewis adduct, tend to remain unpaired and therefore to retain their Lewis acidic and basic properties, being then able to act as a dual activator of small molecules. For instance, dihydrogen or silanes can be activated and delivered to multiple bonds. This opened the way for —yet almost unexplored— FLP-catalysed asymmetric hydrogenation or hydrosilylation.

The project aims at designing chiral FLPs and assessing their structural and electronic properties, in order to rapidly identify structure-activity and –enantioselectivity relationships in hydrogenation and hydrosilylation. The objective is to offer a competitive alternative or complement to transition metals.

The long-term benefits of this project will be to decrease the costs of industrial chemical processes, especially in the synthesis of active pharmaceutical ingredients, and to provide an opportunity to reduce the dependence of France and Europe on countries producing transition metals, which are crucial raw materials.

France 2030