Overview: Our research is focused on developing new bonding arrangements at boron and subsequently exploring the chemistry of these compounds. The desired compounds will have unusual properties and be examined for their utility as reagents, in electronic materials, Lewis acid mediated catalysis and ligands for transition metals. Our research interests span the fields of organometallic, organic, and materials chemistry.

Organic Materials: Boron heterocycles with conjugated pi-systems have unique photophysical properties which offer great potential in electronic devices, specifically organic photovoltaic solar cells and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). The incorporation of a tricoordinate boron center with a vacant p orbital in unsaturated systems serves as a means of lowering the LUMO of the molecule which leads to a decrease in HOMO-LUMO gap as well as enhances electron accepting abilities. Despite their potential utility, progress in this field has been stifled greatly due to the lack of synthetic routes to prepare boron-containing heterocycles. Our group is focused on developing novel synthetic routes to generate these species and subsequently exploring their photophysical properties to investigate their utility in electronic devices.

Biologically Active Scaffolds: Boron containing heteroarenes can be considered as mimics for benzene or pyridine which are prominent motifs in natural products. In this regard, we aim to advance the chemistry of these heterocycles for targeted synthesis.

Catalysis: The electron deficiency of associated with neutral tricoordinate boron compounds makes them very useful Lewis acids. The library of powerful Lewis acidic boranes is quite limited. We are preparing boranes with extremely high Lewis acidity and leveraging them for catalytic bond transformation and polymerization reactions.

Ligand Development: Substituting boron for a carbon atom imparts a negative charge in the system due to boron being in group 13. Specifically, boratabenzene is an anionic variant of benzene and borolide is a dianionic analogue of cyclopentadienide. With the increased charge, the Coulombic attraction to electropositive metal centers is enhanced to make strong metal-ligand interactions. We are preparing metal complexes featuring these boracyclic ligands to understand the differences in bonding in comparison to their carbonaceous counterparts.

Training of next generation scientists: Students and post doctoral researchers in the group will become experts in synthetic chemistry including air/moisture sensitive manipulations (glove box and Schlenk techniques). Students will learn expertise in multinuclear NMR spectroscopy (1H, 11B, 13C, 31P), X-Ray Crystallography, Mass Spectrometry, as well as FT-IR, Fluorescence, and UV-Vis spectroscopy. Opportunities are available to learn DFT and electrochemical methods to analyze molecules.

We are very grateful to the following agencies for funding our research: