The Zhang group is interested in addressing fundamental and practical problems in organic chemistry by developing a diverse set of chiral phosphine ligands (a chiral toolbox approach), which combine with transition metals to form effective catalysts. We are also discovered new metal-catalyzed reactions such as Rh, Ag and Cu-catalyzed cyclization reactions. Our group has focused on developing new generation of catalysts for asymmetric hydrogenation. These practical technologies have allowed pharma and fine chemical companies to synthesize chiral molecules in a highly efficient, cost-effective and environmentally compliant way. Selected commercial chiral ligands developed by us are Binaphane, TunePhos, TangPhos, DuanPhos and Binapine.
Transitional metal complexes (Ru, Rh and Ir) with these chiral ligands are highly enantioselective (up to 99%ee) and active (up to 1,000,000 turnovers) catalysts for hydrogenation of many types of ketones, imines and olefins. These methods provide one of the most practical ways to make chiral amines, alcohols, alpha and beta-amino acids, acids, aminoalchohols and other chiral building blocks.
Other areas of Zhang’s group interests are to develop highly enantioselective hydroformylation catalysts through novel ligand design and invent highly linear-selective hydroformylation catalysts for making commodity chemical products. Significant advances have been made in our lab in these directions. We are also interested in developing practical ligands for transition metal-catalyzed coupling reactions.