Research in the Togni group focuses on the development of new ligands and reagents. These two general directions thus impact the ability to construct molecules in more efficient or unprecedented ways.
In the field of homogeneous catalysis, our group mainly focuses on the development of new ligands based on ferrocene or N-heterocyclic carbenes. Careful study of such systems allows the understanding of reaction pathways and thus helps in improving the catalytic species. A pertinent example is the Josiphos family of chiral ligands, originally discovered at Ciba-Geigy Ltd. and further developed at Solvias AG, Basel. A ligand of this type is still used in the synthesis of the herbicide (S)-metolachlor which represents the largest industrial-scale application of enantioselective hydrogenation.
In the field of synthetic methodology, we have developed iodine(III) based trifluoromethylation reagents capable of transfering an electrophilic CF3 group to nucleophilic centers including transition metals. These reagents have seen widespread use. This is largely due to their ease of use and the ability to fine-tune reactivity by a variety of activation agents, providing direct access to C-CF3, N-CF3, O-CF3, S-CF3, P-CF3 scaffolds. These emergent fluorinated motifs have spurred further reagent development. For example, we recently reported one of the first electrophilic radical trifluoromethoxy (OCF3) transfer reagent,
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