Cottrell College Science Awards - 2015
Nickel-Catalyzed Decarboxylative Carbon-Carbon Bond Formation
Most industrially important chemicals require catalysts for their production. A catalyst is a substance that assists with a chemical reaction without itself being consumed by that reaction. Given its importance, research into the discovery of new catalytic processes impacts many areas of chemistry.
Dipannita Kalyani, assistant professor of chemistry at St. Olaf College, has received a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement to engage in research aimed at developing a specific type of catalysis -- using organic carboxylates in nickel catalyzed cross couplings.
In chemistry terms, “organic” generally means that a particular molecule is carbon-based; the term “carboxylate” refers to the salt of carboxylic acids (acetic acid, the active ingredient of vinegar is an example of a carboxylic acid). “Cross coupling” refers to the chemical process of joining two different molecules.
Other researchers have generally used carboxylates to replace halides (chemical compounds consisting of a halogen atom and another element -- salt is a halide) in cross couplings with metals such as palladium and copper, but not with nickel.
St. Olaf offers one of the top chemistry programs in the country. Kalyani said her intent is to involve undergraduate students in this project in hopes that some of their work will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
In addition, if successful her work could help meet industry’s growing demand for earth-abundant, and therefore inexpensive, metals in organometallic catalysis.