Tenure since 2015
Investigation of novel silicon(II), aluminium(I) and tandem compounds for transition metal-free small molecule activation.
Many current synthetic catalytic strategies rely on toxic, rare and expensive transition metal catalysts for the activation of chemical bonds. Martin's research focuses on the development of cheaper, and more benign main group alternatives based on low-valent silicon and aluminium.
Recently, it has been shown that main group compounds are able to carry out some basic elementary steps involved in catalysis: oxidative addition, alkene binding and reductive elimination. With 35% of the earth’s crust being made up of silicon and aluminium, their functional compounds are particularly desirable.
The aim of Martin's research is to develop novel main group compounds to investigate the extent of their potential for catalysis. A series of compounds based on low-valent silicon and aluminium will be synthesised and their catalytic-type reactions will be tested, including the activation of some industrially-significant small molecules. Furthermore, a new concept of ‘tandem’ systems will be explored where the catalytic compound will contain two reaction centres. This is intended to solve the problem of the relatively small size of main group elements compared with transition metals.
Martin’s interest in main group chemistry began with his EPSRC Vacation Scholarship under Prof. J. D. Woollins at the University of St Andrews in 2013, from which he also gained his first publication (Dalton Trans. 2014, 43, 6548–6560). He was then awarded a DAAD RISE Fellowship to study low-valent group 14 chemistry under Prof. Dr A. C. Filippou at the University of Bonn the following year.
In 2015 he graduated with an MChem from the University of St Andrews where he completed his master’s project under Prof. Woollins and Prof. Ashbrook on solid-state NMR studies of novel phosphorus, sulfur and selenium heterocycles and earned a place on the Deans’ List before moving to the University of Edinburgh to study for his PhD under Dr. Michael Cowley.