Directory of Expertise

Simon Aldridge (Home Page)

Research in the Aldridge group is focused on the structural and reaction chemistry of low-coordinate Transition Metal and Main Group systems. Specific projects targeting catalytic processes include the use of mixed Transition Metal / aluminium compounds in hydrogenation chemistry, especially with respect to Syngas conversion (in collaboration with BP); low-electron count rhodium and iridium N-heterocyclic carbene complexes in E-H bond activation; and ligand activated late Transition Metal b-diketiminate (Nacnac) complexes in cooperative E-H bond activation.


Keywords: Transition Metal and Main Group organometallic chemistry, Lewis acids, E-H activation chemistry.

Ed Anderson (Home Page)

The development of new catalytic reactions in the Anderson group is inspired by the chemical challenges posed by bioactive natural products. Their structures require the invention of efficient, mild and scalable processes which are easily translated into other settings. Particular areas of interest include palladium-catalysed processes including cascade ring-forming reactions, fluoride-free Hiyama cross-coupling, and transition metal-catalysed reactions of ynamides. The emphasis with all these processes is on reaction generality, and the rapid development of molecular complexity.
Keywords: Transition metal catalysis, palladium, cascade reactions, cyclisation, selectivity, synthesis.

Fraser Armstrong (Home Page)

The Armstrong group has pioneered a suite of techniques known as protein film electrochemistry (PFE) for investigating enzymes as electrocatalysts.  Many enzymes when attached to an electrode catalytically interconvert substrates at very high rates, consuming or releasing electrons with transfer to the electrode. These PFE technique and concepts are being exploited to extract exquisite information on highly reactive enzyme intermediates, and to produce novel devices such as miniature fuel cells running on H2/air mixtures, solar-fuel generators for producing H2 or reducing CO2 using sunlight, and fuel interconverters able to perform the water gas shift reaction rapidly at room temperature

Keywords: Hydrogen, Enzymes, Electrocatalyst, Solar fuels, Fuel cell, Carbon dioxide 

Paul Bagot (Home Page)

Our research interests are in the atomic-scale analysis of heterogeneous catalysts using Atom Probe Tomography (APT), a unique facility in the UK for characterizing materials at the atomic scale. We have a broad range of experience in using this in two catalysis-related areas. The first of these is examining chemical/structural changes to platinum group alloys following exposure to realistic catalytic operating environments. Secondly, we can now characterize a range of core-shell nanoparticles as synthesized by academic/industrial collaborators. By combining APT with complementary TEM studies, we aim to understand better how such alloy catalysts work at a fundamental atomic level. Such information allows us to understand how to maximise performance against cost, offering obvious benefits in a range of applications reliant on heterogeneous catalysis, including energy production and pollution control.

Keywords: platinum, palladium, rhodium, nanoparticles, characterization, oxidation, atom probe tomography, heterogeneous catalysis

John Brown (Home Page)

Current research arises from a longstanding interest in the mechanisms of homogeneous catalysis, especially cases where accessible reactive intermediates are involved. Asymmetric catalysis, with an emphasis on discovering the origins of enantioselectivity in reactions of wide application, forms a central component of the work. The main tool for study has been NMR.  Problems of particular current interest include Soai’s unique example of amplifying asymmetric autocatalysis, catalytic C-H activation by palladium complexes, and the development of a better understanding of the role of enantiomerically pure ligands in asymmetric catalytic reactions, using both DFT and accessible structural data. 

Keywords: NMR, physical methods, enantioselectivity, palladium, C-H activation.

Jonathan Burton (Home Page)

The Burton group are interested in developing new and efficient synthetic methodology for the synthesis of a wide range of targets including biologically active natural products and analogues thereof.  Key to this research programmes is the development of new methods for the synthesis of highly-functionalised ring compounds under palladium, zinc and ytterbium catalysis.  We are actively involved in new oxidative radical chemistry for use in chemical synthesis, which allows the synthesis of complex bicyclic structures from simple linear precursors. 


Keywords: oxidative radical chemistry, zinc(II), palladium, ring chemistry, synthesis

Ben Davis (Home Page)

Biocatalysis - Exploring and Designing Enzyme Systems for use in Synthesis
Not only can the use of enzymes in synthesis often allow reactions to be performed in a much more convenient way than traditional chemical methods but their mechanisms and mode of action provide a wonderful insight into novel chemistries. Our work in this area focuses primarily on the redesign of enzymes to perform functions not seen before in nature and that are traditionally tough to achieve with other methods and involves the probing of catalytic mechanism using a strong basis of Physical Organic Chemistry.
Catalysis for Synthetic Biology and Chemical Medicine
Selective bond-making and breaking inside biological systems is a holy grail for science. Such 'in vivo chemistry' can be achieved in a benign manner if suitable chemistry can be found. We have shown that small molecule and macromolecule catalytic systems can be used on proteins, on cells and even inside organisms to control biological function in a new manner that is programmed by chemistry.
Keywords: enzymes, biocatalysis, proteins, sugars, biosynthesis, in vivo chemistry, Suzuki biology

Pete Dobson (Home Page)

Peter Dobson is the Director of the Begbroke Science Department, and whilst officially in the Dept of Engineering Science he has strong links to other departments. He is currently (2012) the Advisor on Nanotechnology to RCUK. His interests in the area of catalysis are broad, ranging from the "in fuel" use of ceria to improve combustion of diesel to the enhancement or elimination of photocatalytic effects on doped oxides.


Keywords: Combustion, Photocatalysis, Heterogenous Catalysis 

Tim Donohoe (Home Page)

Tim Donohoe has several years of experience in the development of new catalytic reactions, especially oxidation reactions based on osmium. In addition, the roles of ruthenium catalysts in metathesis processes and the use of palladium cross-coupling for the formation of aromatic compounds are currently under intensive investigation. With each catalysis project that is under development, we also aim to test the usefulness of our methodology with an application in the synthesis of complex organic targets, especially those with potent bioloigcal activity.

Keywords: transition metals, metathesis, oxidation, osmium, palladium

Darren Dixon (Home Page)

Catalysis is the overarching theme that connects all of the projects in the Dixon group. We are interested in: novel catalyst design;new catalyst concept development; development of synthetically powerful reaction cascades; new catalytic synthetic methodology development and the application of these discoveries as important key steps in pharmaceutical, agrochemical and natural product synthesis. Much of our work focuses on the design and development of metal free, environmentally friendly, organocatalysts and to this end we have made significant contributions in the field of enantioselective aminocatalysis, Bronsted base / H-bond donor bifunctional organocatalysis and asymmetric phase transfer catalysis.

Keywords: Amino and Bifunctional Organocatalysis, Metal/Organo Cooperative Catalysis, Enantioselective Catalysis, Cascade Catalysis, Flow Catalysis, Site Isolation Cascade Catalysis, Reactivity, Methodology, Stereocontrol, Mechanism

Peter Edwards (Home Page)

Catalysis research in the Edwards group is of a diverse nature, with a number of different areas explored from petrochemical to photocatalytic. The petrochemical research focuses on five main areas, ranging from traditional alkylation, polymerisation and cleaner combustion projects, to more obscure areas focused upon utilising unconventional feedstocks; such as heavy oil and carbon dioxide and transforming them selectively into lighter gases (olefins, LPG) and alcohols respectively. The primary aim of these projects is the development of novel catalyst systems, which offer advantages over existing catalytic technology. The group is also active in the development of novel synthetic methods to tune the physical and electronic structure of hybrid nanostructured catalysts for visible-light photocatalytic reduction of CO2 into carbon-neutral fuels and valuable chemicals such as olefins.

Keywords: Catalyst design; heterogenous catalysis; solid-acid catalysts for alkylation reaction; CO2 photoreduction, catalysts for cracking of bunker oil, catalysts for clean combustion, photoelectrochemical water splitting.

Jamie Ferguson (Isis Innovation Ltd.)

Jamie Ferguson is a Senior Technology Transfer Manager at Isis Innovation Ltd., the University of Oxford’s technology transfer company.  Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and an MBA.  He joined Isis in 2006, with previous commercial roles in petrochemicals and electronics. His portfolio includes mainly inorganic and physical chemistry projects and he has been led commercialisation on a number of these including several catalysis projects.


Keywords: technology transfer, commercialisation, intellectual property, patents, licensing

Stephen Fletcher (Home Page)

Research in the Fletcher group is focused on the development of new catalytic reactions.  We are particularly concerned with developing new catalytic asymmetric methods for C-C bond formation using simple and readily available starting materials.  
We are also developing autocatalytic networks that may be related to the origin of life and understanding the efficient conversion of light into energy. 

Keywords:  Asymmetric catalysis, copper, zirconium, tandem reactions, autocatalysis, photocatalysis.

Veronique Gouverneur (Home Page)

The Gouverneur group is specialized in fluorine chemistry. The focus is on the design and development of innovative methods to solve long-standing problems in fluorination with an emphasis on catalytic processes (transition metal and organocatalyst). Molecular editing with fluorine is key to facilitate drug and agrochemical development, to produce 18F-labelled biomarkers for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and to improve the performance of functional materials. We have very strong collaborative links with Dr J. M. Brown FRS (Oxford, Chemistry).


Keywords: fluorine chemistry, transition metal catalysis, organocatalysis, C–H activation, C–F activation and bond forming.

Angus Kirkland (Home Page)

Research in the Kirkland group concentrates on the use of ultrahigh resolution electron microscopy to examine the structure of nanoscale metal and metal oxide particles. Using this method we are able to study local surface structures in these systems and to probe how these change as a function of temperature and pressure. We have very strong collaborative links with Inorganic Chemists in New Zealand (Tilley) and Materials Scientists at Leeds (Brydson). We have also collaborated with Amanda Barnard in theoretical modeling of nanoscale phase transitions and with Henny Zandbergen (Delft) in the design of in-situ experimental apparatus.

Keywords: Electron Microscopy, metal and metal oxide nanoparticles

Dermot O'Hare (Home Page)

Research in the O’Hare group is based upon synthetic organometallic and materials chemistry, and in particular the synthesis of novel transition metal complexes using alkyl indenyl and pentalene ligands and the synthesis of new Frustrated Lewis pairs (FLPs). We are currently interested in a number topics related to Catalysis – especially the development of novel olefin polymerisation catalysts and their immobilization on new types of solid supports and in developing new low temperature and pressure catalytic reactions involving CO2.

Keywords: Molecular Organometallic Chemistry, Synthesis and Characterisation of Immobilized Organometallic Catalysts, Mechanism, Structure, Catalytic CO2 Conversions.

John McGrady (Home Page)

Research in the McGrady group focuses on the applications of modern computational chemistry to inorganic systems. Interests range from fundamental problems of structure and bonding to the use of theory to identify reaction intermediates of potential catalytic importance. Current research areas include the elucidation of reaction mechanisms for water oxidation catalysis (in collaboration with McKenzie, University of Southern Denmark) and C-F bond activation (with Perutz, York) and the identification of transient cluster hydride intermediates (with Duckett, York).


Keywords: Computational chemistry, transition metals, water oxidation, structure and bonding, hydrides. 

Philip Mountford (Home Page)

The Mountford group is working on the synthesis and stoichiometric and catalytic chemistry of organometallic compounds of a range of transition, lanthanide and main group metals, from both a fundamental and catalytic point of view.  We are particularly interested in developing new catalysts and technologies for following the areas: olefin polymerisation (homo-polymerisation and elastomers such as EP(D)M); the controlled synthesis of bio-degradable and bio-compatible polymers such as PLA, poly(caprolactone); the catalytic diamination (oxidation) of alkynes with hydrazines and related oxidants.

Keywords: catalyst design; mechanism; polyolefins; polylactones; elastomers; biodegradable polymers.


Rob Paton (Home Page)

The group's research interests focus on solving problems in organic and bioorganic chemistry using computational methods. Predictions and designs of new reactions, reagents, and catalysts are tested through our close collaborations with experimentalists. Research themes in catalysis  include investigations into transition metal catalysed C-H activation (industrial collaboration) and the enzymatic catalysis of polyether antibiotic synthesis.

Keywords: Computational Chemistry, Recation Mechansims, C–H activation, Catalyst Prediction and Design



Chris Schofield (Home Page)

CSThe research of the Schofield group focuses on enzymes that catalyse synthetically challenging reactions and the application of this knowledge in biomedicine and biocatalysis.  Of particular interest are oxygenase enzymes that catalyse stereospecific modifications (hydroxylation, desaturation, oxidative cyclisation) of both small molecules and biopolymers.  Basic research from the group has been applied both in the pharmaceutical and fine chemical sectors.

Keywords:  enzymology, oxygenases, biocatalysis, C-H activation, protein-engineering.


Martin Smith (Home Page)

Research in the Smith group focusses on the application of synthetic chemistry as an interdisciplinary linch-pin for the development of new folded materials, the discovery of innovative catalytic methods, and their application in the investigation of important biological and chemical problems. Through this we have developed new ion-binding approaches to the catalysis of electrocyclic reactions and conformationally well-defined catalytic scaffolds.

Keywords:phase transfer, enantioselective, cascade, cooperative, reactivity, efficiency, catalysis 

Amber Thompson (Home Page)

The Chemical Crystallography Laboratory in Oxford is one of the UK's leading high resolution X-ray crystallography groups. The laboratory is equipped with two state-of-the-art Oxford Diffraction/Agilent dual microfocus Kappa geometry area detector diffractometers and two Nonius single wavelength Kappa CCD diffractometers as well as thermo-gravimetric, calorimetric and microscopic analysis instrumentation.  Research interests include challenging aspects of refinement; determination and control of absolute configuration, and understanding of the solid-state.  We collaborate extensively with groups from Inorganic and Organic Chemistry in Oxford as well as working closely with scientists from further afield, both nationally and internationally.

Keywords: X-ray diffraction;  crystallography; structure; absolute configuration.

Edman Tsang (Home Page)

Research interests of Tsang group are mainly on both fundamental and applied aspects in heterogeneous Catalysis with a focus on the use of nanoparticles. They work on synthesis, testing and characterisation of novel solid state nano-materials for a wide range of catalytic applications. Some of their recent works are placed on architecture of nanocatalyst surfaces and interfaces, leading to the design of more active and cost effective catalysts in new energy and environment sectors. In particular, their work suggests new bridges between traditional heterogeneous catalysts and homogeneous catalysts as well as surface sciences/catalysis but the solid nanocatalysts either supported or unsupported on solid phase are tested and studied under real testing conditions without the need of applying UHV techniques.

Keywords: nanoparticle, heterogeneous, catalysis, design, architecture, nanotechnology, energy, environment.

Kylie Vincent (Home Page)

The Vincent group are a bio-inorganic chemistry group, interested in understanding and exploiting biological redox catalysis. The group are developing Infrared spectroelectrochemical methods for studying mechanistic aspects of catalysis by metalloenzymes, including hydrogenase and carbon monoxide dehydrogenase. The Vincent group have also demonstrated and patented a system of enzyme-modified catalytic beads for driving regeneration of the biological cofactors NADH and NADPH using electrons from dihydrogen and we are developing these as a platform for application of cofactor-dependent enzymes in selective chemical synthesis. 
Keywords: enzyme; electrocatalysis; spectroelectrochemistry; hydrogen; NADH recycling 

Andrew Weller (Home Page)

Research in the Weller group is based upon synthetic organometallic chemistry, and in particular the generation and stabilisation of transition metal complexes with a low coordination number. Through this we are interested in topics related to Catalysis – especially mechanism-led design of new catalyst systems – structure and bonding and energy. In particular we are interested in complexes that display C-H, B-H and C-C bonding modes (via agostic and sigma interactions) and activation and their role in catalytic cycles. We have very strong collaborative links with Organic chemists (Michael Willis, Oxford) and Computational chemists (Stuart Macgregor, Heriot–Watt).
Keywords: Organometallic Chemistry, C–H and B–H activation, C–C bond forming, Mechanism, Structure

Michael Willis (Home Page)

Research in the Willis group is focused on the development of new catalytic processes for use in synthetic and materials chemistry.  Reaction development, ligand and catalyst design, mechanistic analysis, asymmetric catalysis, and reaction application are the key activities of the group.  Specific areas of interest include the ‘unconventional’ activation of functional groups such as aldehydes (C-H) and sulfides (S-C), the use of sulfur dioxide in synthesis and the application of catalytic methods to the synthesis of heterocycles.


Keywords: Transition metal catalysis; hydroacylation; carbothiolation; sulfonylation; C-H functionalisation; ligand design; asymmetric catalysis.

Luet Wong (Home Page)

Research in the LLW group is focused on catalytic oxidation of C-H bonds to the alcohol by the cytochrome P450 superfamily of heme-dependent monooxygenases. P450 enzymes use two electrons and two protons to activate atmospheric dioxygen to oxidise non-activated C-H bonds in a very broad range of organic compounds, from simple alkanes and aromatic hydrocarbons to complex terpenoids and pharmaceutical compounds. The mild conditions and elimination of high-energy compounds and toxic wastes make this enzymatic reaction highly attractive to synthesis. The LLW group has interests in discovering new P450 enzymes with new activity and in engineering stable and highly active enzymes (such as P450cam and P450BM3) for fast and selective oxidation of organic compounds for applications in synthesis and bioenergy. Current targets include the oxidation of alkanes down to methane, of terpenoid compounds for fine chemical synthesis, and drug metabolite synthesis.


Keywords: C-H bond oxidation, enzymes, P450, biocatalysis, methane, alkanes, fine chemicals, intermediates, pharmaceuticals, drug metabolite synthesis  



Subject Areas

Bagot, Dobson, Edwards,
Homogeneous: Organometallic
Aldridge, BrownMountford
Homogeneous: Organic
Anderson, BrownBurton,
Donohoe,Dixon, Fletcher,
Chemical Biology/
ArmstrongDavis, Schofield
Vincent, Wong
Technolgoy Transfer
Ferguson, Dobson