Professor Neidig’s research interests fall within the areas of organometallic chemistry and non-precious metal catalysis in organic synthesis. At the core of research in the Neidig group is a novel experimental approach using inorganic spectroscopies, density functional theory and synthesis combined with kinetic studies to develop molecular-level insight into electronic structure and bonding in non-precious metal organometallic complexes, active catalyst structure and the mechanisms involved in current leading-edge non-precious metals catalyzed reactions in organic synthesis.
One major effort in the Neidig group focuses on iron-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions, where a growing body of research has demonstrated that iron can be an excellent catalyst, effecting cross-couplings that have proven difficult for platinum group metals such as the coupling of alkyl halides and Grignard reagents with both high activity and selectivity. As a representative example, in the area of iron-bisphosphines we have established that a combination of Mössbauer, MCD and DFT methods was demonstrated to be a highly impactful methodology for the investigation of the iron-catalyzed Kumada coupling of MesMgBr and primary alkyl halides. For example, these studies permitted the identification of the active catalyst species, insight into the effects of the reaction protocol on in-situ iron speciation and catalytic performance and direct insight into the molecular-level mechanism of catalysis.
In another major effort, the Neidig group is studying the active catalyst species and mechanisms involved in iron- and cobalt-catalyzed direct C-H functionalization reactions. In this chemistry, we utilize an approach combining multiple inorganic spectroscopies (magnetic circular dichroism, Mössbauer, electron paramagnetic resonance, resonance Raman), density functional theory, synthesis and kinetic and reaction studies in order to elucidate detailed electronic structure and bonding insight in iron- and cobalt-organometallics involved in these reactions. Ultimately, the development of such fundamental insight into structure, bonding and mechanism in iron- and cobalt-catalyzed direct C-H functionalization is critical to inspire and facilitate the rational design and development of systems with improved catalytic performance.