Journal of Undergraduate Research


heterobimetallic complexes, transition metal catalysts, pharmaceuticals


Life Sciences


Chemistry and Biochemistry


Transition metal catalysts have revolutionized the efficiency by which pharmaceuticals and other value added products are synthesized due to their unique ability to activate small molecules and drive the formation of new C-C and C-N bonds. In particular, the direct functionalization of olefins with transition metal catalysts is a powerful method of converting simple, cheap building blocks into more complex molecules. The challenge is that many ligands that control reaction selectivity often decrease the electrophilicity of the catalyst. Heterobimetallic complexes containing an early/late transition metal pair could provide a solution to this challenge by providing a new way to activate the late transition responsible for catalysis. The Lewis acidic early transition metal in these complexes can withdraw electron density from the late metal, making the latter more electrophilic, and thus more reactive towards olefin activation. It is the ability to add a second metal “ligand” to tune the electronic properties of the reactive center that makes heterobimetallic complexes a potentially superior alternative. Despite the obvious advantage of being able to tune the electronics of a catalyst independent of the metal system via this dative interaction, there are few examples of heterobimetallic mediated transitions.