The field of catalysis with cheap and biocompatible early main group metals, especially Ca, is developing fast and borders keep moving. The research group of Professor Sjoerd Harder, Chair of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy of FAU, is a pioneer in the field and aims to demonstrate that simple main group metals can, in many cases, replace the traditionally used transition metal catalysts based on platinum or palladium.
Their latest contribution was published in the very first issue of Nature Catalysis, the new member in the group of Nature journals. They present the alkaline-earth metal catalyzed hydrogenation of imines with H2 at remarkably low pressures (down to 1 bar) and with extremely simple and easily accessible catalysts. As outlined in the paper, this unexpected catalytic transformation came as a surprise. The work published is a joint project with the University of Bruxelles, where theoretical calculations that reveal the mechanism have been carried out. Considering the cleanliness, broad scope and functional group tolerance of the reaction, this work is another milestone in the rapidly growing field of early main group metal catalysis.
Article: H. Bauer, M. Alonso, C. Färber, H. Elsen, J. Pahl, A. Causero, G. Ballmann, F. de Proft, S. Harder Nature Catalysis 2018, 1, 40-47.
See also the News & Views section in Nature: D. Stephan, Nature 2018, 553, 160-162.