The central objective of our research is to develop novel, highly useful synthetic methods based on asymmetric nucleophilic catalysis. We aim at identifying new chemical reactions that can be promoted by two families of nucleophilic catalysts, namely, N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) and phosphines. Despite the fact that the initial discoveries of the catalytic potency of NHCs and phosphines were made more than 40 years ago, these two classes of organocatalysts attracted attention relatively recently, and their application is currently a very active, “hot” area of research in synthetic organic chemistry.
By employing reactivities of various reagents that have never been used in the context of nucleophilic catalysis with NHCs and phosphines, we plan to address many fundamental challenges present currently in this field. The new processes will allow for a rapid increase in the molecular complexity during a single synthetic step and they will open convenient access to complex molecular architectures encountered in natural products and pharmacologically important compounds.
A part of the program is also devoted to the preparation of novel classes of chiral carbenes and phosphines, specially tailored for the application as nucleophilic catalysts.