Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Xiaodong Shi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Juan Del Valle, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Leahy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chuanhai Cao, Ph.D.


Gold Catalysis, Dual Catalysis, Hydroboration, 1,2-Azaborine


Homogenous Au(I)-catalysis has become a valuable synthetic tool to activate a host of unsaturated carbon functional groups towards nucleophilic addition. Over the course of the past two decades, many have embarked on new journeys within this field. Notably, the advancements in this field hinge on the development of new ligand systems that impart novel reactivity at the metal. Our group has focused on this area, as we have successfully demonstrated the utility of 1,2,3-triazoles as ligands for gold and a host of other transition metals and Lewis acids. With respect to gold catalysis, these ligands enhance the stability of the metal center, thus inhibiting typical reductive decomposition pathways that have plagued this field. The enhanced stability comes with a price though as higher temperatures can be required. We’ve addressed this challenge by discovering an interesting synergy between triazole-gold and Lewis acids, allowing us to overcome the lower reactivity of these catalysts.

During my time as a graduate student, I have focused heavily on enlisting these catalytic systems for new reaction discovery. In my first experimental chapter, I was able to develop an interesting reaction cascade in which triazole-gold and secondary amine catalysts were used. I started with a well-known gold-catalyzed Claisen rearrangement of propargyl vinyl ether, yielding functionalized allenes. The identical oxidation state between these allenes and synthetically appealing dienals was an impetus to develop a new isomerization strategy. After screening various conditions, I was able to successfully execute this design.

Most of the work I have been involved in over the past two years has surrounded a gold-catalyzed hydroboration to yield interesting hetercocycles containing a N-B bond. The N-B bond offers some unique properties as it is isoelectronic to a C-C double bond. Despite the simplicity in this design, it would become apparent early on in this research that mitigating the reducing strength of the starting materials was absolutely critical. Starting materials that were too strongly reducing led to rapid catalyst decomposition. Through thorough reaction screening, we have been able to identify a catalytic system that performs extremely well in this context. Ultimately, our goal in this work is to access 1,2-azaborines, which are isosteres of benzene. This compound exhibits aromaticity, as determined through structural and quantitative analyses by several groups. However, subtle differences in properties between the azaborine and benzene, such as its polarity, have intrigued many researchers across various disciplines. Moreover, the ubiquity of its carbonaceous parent in biological systems has prompted many to pursue new synthetic routes to access 1,2-azaborines.

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