Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Natural Products
Our main interest is synthetic organic chemistry. Research in our laboratory focuses on four major areas. These are (1) new synthetic methodology, (2), asymmetric synthesis (3) natural product synthesis, and (4) new materials. The development of new methods for the preparation of enantiomerically pure compounds is an area of intense scrutiny. In this context, the design and execution of transformations which utilize catalytic amounts of chiral Lewis acids to install chirality in prochiral substrates has become very important. A program of high priority in our group is the development of synthetically useful radical reactions, especially, enantioselective variants using chiral Lewis acid catalysis. The stereoselectivity in these reactions will be established by manipulating the geometry of the reactive complex by judicious choice of simple, readily available, and easily removable achiral templates, ligands, and Lewis acids. We have recently demonstrated that high enantioselectivity can be achieved in conjugate addition of carbon radicals, amines, and carbanions to α,β-unsaturated carboxyl derivatives using catalytic amounts chiral Lewis acids. A better understanding of these reactions, their refinement, and extension to other bond forming processes are projects under investigation.
Total synthesis of several biologically active terpene and alkaloid natural products are being pursued in our laboratory. These have a symbiotic relationship with other programs in the group which involve the development of methods for achieving high levels of stereochemical control. Other ongoing projects include the utilization of agricultural materials as feed stocks for the generation of commercially useful materials, synthesis of conducting polymers, and development of sensors for the estimation of corrosion.