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Design and Applications of Selective Olefin Metathesis Catalysts
Prof. Robert H. GRUBBS, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology; 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Date : 26 Mar 2019 (Tuesday)
Time : 10:00 am - 12:00 noon
Venue : IAS Lecture Theater, Lo Ka Chung Building, Lee Shau Kee Campus, HKUST
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Olefin Metathesis has become a tool for the synthesis of complex organic molecules and materials. The key to the development of these applications has been the discovery and study of organometallic complexes that will efficiently catalyze the reaction in the presence of standard functional groups. The next advances resulted from the development of more selective catalysts and complexes that show high turnover numbers in important transformations. Over the past several years two families of complexes have been developed that produce high Z selectivity in the cross metathesis of terminal olefins. Some of these catalysts now produce Z olefins in >95 Z at >95% conversions with high turnover numbers. The next challenge is to produce a catalyst that produces olefins with high E selectivity. A number of strategies are being developed for the construction of such catalysts. In addition to their use in organic synthesis, many of the catalytic complexes also serve as initiators for living polymerization. A number of brush-block copolymers that assemble into well-ordered structures can be prepared using these initiators. Although there are now a number of commercial processes based on olefin metathesis, others will only become possible with even more selective and efficient catalysts.


About the speaker

Prof. Robert H. Grubbs received his BS in Chemistry in 1963 and MS in 1965, from the University of Florida in Gainesville. In 1998, he obtained his PhD in Chemistry from Columbia University. From 1968-1969 he was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Stanford University. He joined the Michigan State University in 1969 and achieving the rank of Associate Professor. In 1978, he moved to the California Institute of Technology and is currently the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry.

Prof. Grubbs and his research group have worked on the development of powerful new catalysts for metathesis. In recent years, the major focus of the research group has been on the olefin metathesis reactions. To optimize the utility of this reaction, new catalysts, which are named Grubbs’ catalysts after Prof. Grubbs, have been developed. In addition to their broad usage in academic research, these catalysts have also led to the advancement in industrial and pharmaceutical methods which have become simpler, more efficient and environment-friendly. This marks a great step forward for “green chemistry” and the possibility of reducing potential hazardous waste through smarter production methods.

In 2005, Prof. Grubbs, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his notable achievements in the development of metathesis in organic synthesis. He also received numerous awards including the Giulio Natta Award for Chemistry (2014), the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists by the Chemical Heritage Foundation (2010), the Havinga Medal (2006), the Pauling Award Medal (2003) and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2000). He has been elected a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering (2015), a Fellow of the US National Academy of Inventors (2013), a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (2009), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994) and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1989). He has over 580 publications and over 170 US patents based on his research.

For attendees’ attention


  Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
  Light refreshments will be served from 9:30 to 10:00 am.



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