Our research program is focused on the development of conceptually new catalytic methods for organic synthesis. Our goals are to uncover, study, and design new catalytic cycles as well as develop reactions of practical value. We achieve these goals through a mixture of organometallic mechanistic studies, organic reaction development, and collaborations. Our researchers come from both synthetic organic and inorganic backgrounds and all students can expect to be well versed in current organic methods and organometallic mechanisms.
At present, we are particularly inspired by the diverse reactivity of first-row transition metals (Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu), the untapped potential of combining organic radicals with transition metals, multimetallic catalysis, and the challenge of cross-coupling two different electrophiles selectively. A variety of cross-electrophile coupling reactions that have been developed in the Weix group, including aryl halides with alkyl halides, alkyl halides with acid chlorides, enones with organic halides, allylic acetates with organic halides, and epoxides with aryl halides. A particular strength of cross-electrophile coupling is functional group compatibility, even with mild carbon nucleophiles.
Our mechanistic studies have uncovered two general approaches to selective cross-coupling: the coupling of an organic radical with an organometal intermediate and the selective generation of allylnickel intermediates from enones that can then react with other electrophiles. These mechanistic studies have, in turn, led to the development of new reactions. For example, the revelation that the coupling of alkyl halides with aryl halides proceeds by the coupling of an aryl halide with an alkyl radical led to the development of alternative methods for generating radicals, such as with Ti(III) and Co(Pc).