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Research Group: Organic Chemistry: Synthesis, Catalysis and Flow

Currently Active: 

Organic chemists discover, design, and make molecules that have useful or interesting functions such as medicines, liquid crystals, electronic materials, smart inks and many more.  Some of the molecules we target are known while others have never been made before.  Our skills allow us to synthesise such targets through careful design and reaction sequencing.  Importantly, we often work collaboratively with other disciplines to solve problems that demand a broad range of expertise, from drug and agrochemical development, to the design of new diagnostic materials, probes, inks and natural products total syntheses.  Developing sustainable and environmentally ‘green’ approaches to chemical manufacture that minimise chemical waste, improve product velocity and reduce the need to isolate intermediates is a driving force behind much our research.

Areas where the Organic Chemistry Group at Southampton has a strong international reputation include:

Flow chemistry. Southampton staff are at the forefront of world-leading developments in flow chemistry, where chemical reactions are conducted in a continuous fashion rather than as batch process.  Our primary expertise is in the development of new reagentless methodologies using electrochemistry, thermolysis and photochemistry, and in the study of reaction mechanisms.

Medicinal chemistry. In Southampton this covers a wide range of multidisciplinary research at the interfaces of Chemistry, Biology and Medicine.  Much of our research is directed at the optimisation of properties through introducing changes in the molecular structure of ‘lead’ compounds.  Indeed, the study of how molecular properties change upon introduction of a particular modification, e.g. fluorination, is often a goal in itself.  Studies relating to the optimisation of bioactivities, metabolic stability and lipophilicity are typically conducted in collaboration with biological and medical scientists, both in academia and industry, interested in exploiting bioactive compounds.

Total synthesis. Research is focused on developing strategies for the efficient construction of target compounds.  These encompass the molecules of nature, and extend to exquisite non-natural structures such as fullerenes enclosing another atom or molecule, e.g. C60@NH3.  In many cases, judicious selection of reactions from the ‘toolbox’ of known organic transformations is key.  At other times, new transformations need to be developed to address an unusual structural feature, such as an encapsulated molecule, a boat-configured arene or a polyaromatic with a helical twist.

Methodology & Catalysis. Here our focus is on developing tools and catalysts to enable synthetic transformations to be performed in an efficient manner.  This includes the discovery, development and exemplification of new transformations; the optimisation and scoping of existing methods (e.g. by developing new reagents, catalysts and devices), and the creation of novel molecular architectures such as smart inks and scaffolds for drug development.  Results from this type of research feed into, or are directly connected with, our interests in flow, total synthesis and medicinal chemistry.

The section comprises 6 group leaders, who are listed below with their specific research interests. More detailed information can be found on their respective webpages.

Richard Brown. Electrochemistry, flow chemistry, total synthesis, synthetic methodology

Bruno Linclau.  Organofluorine and carbohydrate chemistry, medicinal chemistry, synthetic methodology

David Harrowven. Total synthesis, flow chemistry, photo- and thermochemistry, smart inks, reaction mechanisms

Richard Whitby.  Endofullerenes, electronic materials, medicinal chemistry, flow chemistry, reaction mechanisms

Lynda Brown. Medical imaging, isotopic labelling, smart inks, medicinal chemistry

Ramon Rios.  Organocatalysis, synergistic catalysis, photocatalysis, supported catalysis.




Associated research themes

Links to Key Projects

Labfact: An ERDF supported collaboration aimed at supporting regional SMEs in aspects of molecular synthesis and flow chemistry.

PhotoElectro: An EPSRC supported collaboration aimed at developing new photochemical and electrochemical methods, and their application in chemical manufacture.

SmartT: An ERDF supported collaboration aimed at developing Smart Inks and Textiles for health care and other applications of benefit to regional industry.

Long-Lived Nuclear Spins: A collaborative project with expert NMR colleagues to design and synthesise isotopically labelled molecules that can support extended singlet lifetimes.

The section is supported by state-of-the-art X-ray, Mass Spectrometry and NMR facilities as well as a plethora of specialist equipment for flow chemistry, parallel synthesis, in-line analysis, photo- and electrosynthesis.

If you are interested in joining us either to study or to become part of our research team please select the relevant link below for further information.

Taught degrees (MSc Chemistry, MSc Instrumental Analytical Chemistry, MSc Chemistry by Research, MSc Electrochemistry)

Funded PhD Opportunities

PhD Opportunities. Most of the vacancies in chemistry are not individually listed. Instead, applicants are invited to list several members of chemistry whose research interests them, within one of our main research groups when applying

Current job vacancies at the University of Southampton

Key Publications

List of related projects to Organic Chemistry: Synthesis, Catalysis and Flow
Related ProjectsStatus
Whitby: Natural product synthesis using zirconium chemistryActive
Grossel: New materials for Optoelectronics ApplicationsActive
Linclau: The Influence of Fluorination on LipophilicityActive
Linclau: The influence of fluorination on hydrogen bonding properties of functional groupsActive
Harrowven: Chemistry Without ReagentsActive
Grossel: Supramolecular Approaches to Cryogenic NMR Relaxation AgentsActive
Solid-Phase Organic SynthesisActive
Linclau: Polyfluorinated CarbohydratesActive
Rios: Asymmetric Synthesis of Natural Products and PharmaceuticalsActive
Grossel: New Crystal Engineering SynthonsActive
Whitby: Invention of new transition metal catalysed reactionsActive
Grossel: Biological applications of polymersActive
Rios: Design of new catalystsActive
Flow ElectrosynthesisActive
Harrowven: Total SynthesisActive
Rios: Asymmetric Organocatalytic methodologiesActive
Rios: Synergistic catalysisActive
Harrowven: Synthesis of Medium-Sized Rings, Biaryls and TriarylsActive
Harrowven: Radical ReactionsActive
Nandhakumar & Whitby: Molecular Electronics and Neural Networks Active
Whitby: Organic synthesis using transition metal chemistryActive
Whitby: Asymmetric Synthesis - Novel chiral transition metal complexesActive
Oxidative Cyclisation: Total Syntheses of AcetogeninsActive
Whitby: Insertion of carbenoids into organozirconocene chloridesActive
Harrowven: Total Synthesis of Cavicularin and Riccardin CActive
Linclau:Intramolecular hydrogen bonding between organofluorine and alcoholsActive
Rios: Organocascade ReactionsActive
Rios: Synthesis of Fluorinated CompoundsActive
Linclau: The synthesis of luminacin DActive
Whitby: Insertion of carbenoids into zirconacyclesActive
Whitby: Synthesis of Bioactive compounds: Ligands for Nuclear Receptors and Neuroactive aminesActive
Metal Oxo-Mediated Methodology: Oxidative Cyclisation of 1,5-dienesDormant
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