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The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded chemist Jarl Ivar van der Vlugt of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences an ECHO project grant of 260,000 euros. Van der Vlugt will use the grant for the development of a novel method for the controlled, selective and efficient conversion of alkenes to amines.

Jarl Ivar van der Vlugt Jarl Ivar van der Vlugt. Foto: Bob Bronshoff.

The direct reaction between NH3 and simple alkenes to yield primary amines is considered one of the ten most challenging goals in catalysis. Especially for unactivated C=C double bonds there are hardly any examples of a successful regioselective amine synthesis resulting in terminal amines, which are industrially relevant building blocks. To date there is no general concept or design that can act as catalytic platform for these most wanted regioselective hydrocarbon conversions.

Single electron transfer

To meet this challenge Van der Vlugt proposes a fundamentally novel, bioinspired concept exploiting ligand based redox-activity in combination with late transition (noble) metals. Central to his concept is substrate to-ligand single electron transfer as an innovative pathway to induce intra- and intermolecular hydroamination reactivity in an anti-Markovnikov fashion. 

ECHO project Jarl Ivar van der Vlugt
Central to Van der Vlugt's research project 'Against the Odds: Regioselective Hydroaddition via SingleElectron Catalysis with Noble Metals' is the concept that redox-active ligands can shuttle between two or more oxidation states. Image by Van der Vlugt.

Unprecedented control

If van der Vlugt succeeds, his strategy will afford unprecedented control in the production of amines with relevance to the chemical industry.  Van der Vlugt also foresees a range of synthetic applications outside of the immediate scope of hydroaddition reactions, since his ligand-based methodology offers opportunities to go beyond the well-known organometallic chemistry of “redox-inert” metals and current-day amination strategies.

ECHO project grants are 260,000 euro project grants for excellent chemical research. The grants offer the opportunity to carry out a high quality science driven research project. In this way a challenging scientific idea can be pursued, a new research area can be opened up or a scientific innovation can be established.

Visit the webpage of the Van der Vlugt research group.

Read more about the current NWO/ECHO grants (Dutch).