CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Selective CO2 conversion via chiral CO2 trapping

Personal research project awarded to CHOCO PI Kathrin by the Research Council of Norway with 12 million NOK for the period 2020-2024.

The focus of CATCHME is on identifying molecules that can bind CO2 and promote C-CO2 bond formation, with the ultimate goal to develop asymmetric carboxylation reactions. High-level quantum chemistry and experimental methods will be used in order to investigate the behaviour of CO2 during C-CO2 bond formations in the presence of trapping molecules.

Project summary
C-C bond formation with CO2 typically involves metal-bound carbon nucleophiles. Recent research by us on C-CO2 bond formation indicates that in many reactions of this type, CO2 does not interact with the metal at the C-C bond formation step. CO2 thus experiences no activation from the metal centre. The unbound state of CO2 may be the reason that attempts towards enantioselective CO2 conversion often are unsuccessful, because the free CO2 is little affected by the chiral metal complexes that are employed. CATCHME proposes a novel strategy for enantioselective CO2 conversion, involving trapping of CO2 prior to C-C bond formation. Although many molecules are known that can trap CO2 (e.g. N-heterocyclic carbenes or frustrated Lewis pairs) they are typically employed in CO2 reduction or O-C bond formation, but not in C-C bond forming reactions. A critical aspect of CATCHME will be to identify CO2-adducts that are active in C-C bond formation. Further, if the adducts are chiral, this could provide a novel approach towards enantioselective C-C bond formation with CO2. CATCHME will employ high-level quantum chemistry methods to obtain general insights and identify promising trapping molecules, followed by organic chemistry approaches to test chiral CO2 trapping in enantioselective formation of carboxylic acids.

Concept of CATCHME: Trapping of CO2 may lead to enhanced activity in C-C bond formation and gives the possibility to design reactions leading to enantioselective C-CO2 bond formation

The CATCHME team
The CATCHME team consists of the project leader Assoc. Prof. Kathrin H. Hopmann, collaborator Assoc. Prof. Annette Bayer, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Ljiljana Pavlovic and CHOCO PhD student Cuong Dat Do.

The CATCHME project will additionally open two positions at postdoc level, one in computational chemistry and one in experimental organometallic chemistry. The positions will be announced HERE