Areas of Expertise (5)
Metals in Preparative Chemistry
Public Communication of Science
Cambridge University: Ph.D., Chemistry
University of Nottingham: B.Sc. (Hons)
Cambridge University: Research Fellow
Media Appearances (2)
Catalyst made from plant roots promotes Suzuki reaction
Chemistry World online
"‘The idea behind this work certainly captures the imagination,’ says Nicholas Leadbeater, who researches green chemical processes at the University of Connecticut, US. ‘Using the roots of a plant as the catalyst to perform Suzuki couplings in glycerol certainly checks a number of 'green' boxes...'"
Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater, University of Connecticut – Walter White’s Meth
"In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut begins a three-day examination of the chemistry of the hit television show Breaking Bad. Today, he discusses why Walter White’s product was so unique..."
An operationally simple, robust, metal-free approach to the synthesis of N-acyl azoles from both alcohols and aldehydes is described. Oxidative amidation is facilitated by a commercially available organic oxidant (4-acetamido-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxoammonium tetrafluoroborate) and proceeds under very mild conditions for an array of structurally diverse substrates. Tandem reactions of these activated amides, such as transamidation and esterification, enable further elaboration. Also, the spent oxidant can be recovered and used to regenerate the oxoammonium salt.
Tricyclohexylphosphine[4,5-dimethyl-1,3-bis(2,4,6-trimethylphenyl)imidazol-2-ylidene][2-thienylmethylene]ruthenium(II) dichloride proves active for the ring-closing metathesis of linalool and citronellene, the self-metathesis of eugenol, and to some extent the ethenolysis of methyl oleate. Microwave heating and continuous-flow processing have been used as tools for performing the reactions. For the ring-closing metathesis reactions, transition from batch to flow processing for scale-up of the reaction is possible but it proves problematic in the case of cross-metathesis.
A range of oxoammonium salt-based oxidation reactions have been explored computationally using density functional theory (DFT), and the results have been correlated with experimentally derived trends in reactivity. Mechanistically, most reactions involve a formal hydride transfer from an activated C–H bond to the oxygen atom of the oxoammonium cation. Several new potential modes of reactivity have been uncovered and validated experimentally.
A simple, solvent-free methodology is reported for the direct conversion of esters to amides using lithium hydroxide as a catalyst. The approach allows for the preparation of a range of amide products as well as being applicable to the ring-opening of a representative lactone.