Research in the Dyker group spans the traditional areas of organic, inorganic and organometallic chemistry, and involves both applied and fundamental aspects of chemistry. On the applied side, research is focussed on the theme of using organic compounds with tailored properties to do tasks traditionally done by metal-based species. The fundamental research involves the isolation and characterization of new and interesting molecules that will broaden our understanding of chemical bonding, but should also lead to new applications.
Rechargeable Organic Batteries
The increasing electrification of everything around us, from gadgets to vehicles, as well as the
need to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels as an energy source requires safe, environmentally friendly energy storage innovations.
By replacing redox-active metal compounds, which are expensive and pose environmental or safety issues, with abundant and much more
benign redox-active organic compounds,
research in the Dyker group aims to uncover high-performance, totally organic batteries, as environmentally friendly
energy storage systems.
Stronger p-Donor Substituents
Amino groups (-NR2
) are the classical p
-donor substituent and are typically
regarded as the strongest functionalities in this regard. These notions are for good reason. Indeed, many remarkable achievements have
been accomplished by taking advantage of this property of amino substituents. For examples, amino groups have played a central role in
the development of stable carbenes (traditionally known as a class of highly reactive molecules with a fleeting lifetime), and the recent
development of tetraazafulvalenes as homogeneous organic reducing agents. Despite their wide applicability, amino groups have not been
able to meet all challenges and much could be gained from the use of even stronger p
-donor substituents. For example, we
have recently found that ylidic substituents lead to some of the most active organocatalysts and also the most powerful
organic electron donors, surpassing those related compounds where amino groups are utilized. Our organocatalysts are highly active
in acylation reactions, and we are currently expanding the scope for these catalysts. The electron donors are seen as homogeneous and potentially uniquely selective
reducing agents that are complementary to heterogeneous and/or toxic metal reagents that are more traditionally used. We also envisage that these ylidic substituents should find application in the stabilization of
as-of-yet elusive reactive intermediates, as well in the preparation of new families of compounds with extremely electron rich nitrogen, phosphorus, or carbon centers to subsequently be used as organocatalysts or as ligands
for transition metal-based catalysts.
Funding from the following agencies is gratefully acknowledged: