Chemical processes converting ubiquitous C-H bonds and especially those of non-acidic ones into synthetically useful functional C-Y bonds, known as C-H functionalization/activation, offer highly attractive and inherently sustainable means to the synthesis of functional chemicals for various industrial applications and/or disease management. In the context of propargylic C-H functionalization, the known methods are often energy intensive, require stoichiometric amounts of non-ecofriendly bases and produce hazardous waste. Zhixun’s project seeks a more environmental-friendly and efficient catalytic pathway to functionalize propargylic C-H bonds by using a novel biphenyl-2-ylphosphine ligand-gold(I) platform with orthogonally positioned acidic and basic sites. This ligand-enabled catalytic “soft” deprotonation of propargylic hydrogens allows propargylic C-H functionalization under exceptionally mild conditions, which would reduce the use of energy and raw materials and minimize the generation of chemical waste.
Advisor: Liming Zhang