For Master Students

Information for Master Students

1. Research program

The synthesis of new organic compounds with interesting physical, biological, or pharmaceutical properties remains as a challenge for the chemist. Recent and ongoing developments specifically ask for ‘clean’ and efficient synthesis protocols to be developed for current and future applications. Catalysis, and in particular homogeneous catalysis, plays an important role in the development of such ‘clean’ synthetic protocols.

Homogeneous catalysis makes use of the unique possibilities offered by transition metal ions, once surrounded by the appropriate ligands, to activate and coordinate reactions between organic molecules. The OCC research group is actively involved with various aspects of homogeneous catalysis. New organometallic and coordination complexes are designed and synthesized in search of new catalytic properties in, e.g. organic synthesis or in the catalytic conversion of biomass. In addition, new procedures are developed in order to enable catalytic processes to be carried out in a more practical manner. Here, one can think of the anchoring of catalysts to a carrier material in order to facilitate catalyst reuse and product separations or to perform multi-step synthesis without separation steps and to carry out so-called ‘tandem-reactions’. In the design of new catalysts and new catalytic procedures the active sites of metallo-enzymes and biological ‘cascade’ reactions play an important inspirational role.

Next to the research in homogeneous catalysis the group is also involved in studying the molecular architecture of organic materials. This part of the research involves the design, synthesis, and characterization of new organic compounds and polymers as well as aggregates derived from them. These systems may have special structural aspects, such as physical or chemical properties, that may find application in materials science, optics, electronics and also catalysis.

Ongoing research themes:

  • New organometallic complexes with interesting catalytical properties (including industrial applications)
  • Catalytic biomass conversion
  • Bioinorganic chemistry: synthetic models for metallo-enzymes and homogeneous catalysts based on these models
  • Anchoring of transition metal complexes to soluble or insoluble supports, like dendrimers and silica
  • Transition metal complexes in chemical biology: the use of synthetic metal complexes in the study of biological processes
  • Multimetallic coordination chemistry and Catalysis
  • Advanced characterization of complex biomass feeds
  • New concepts in cooperative catalysis
  • CO2 capture and utilization
  • Hybrid organic-inorganic materials

The OCC group hosts most of the required instrumentation and equipment for its research within its own laboratories. For catalysis research, the group has all the facilities for the synthesis and handling of reactive organometallic compounds, as well as for their characterization. Techniques and spectroscopies that are commonly used include crystallization, distillation, gas chromatography, HPLC, NMR, UV/Vis, IR, GC/MS, etc. For single crystal X-ray crystallography a close collaboration exists with the Crystal & Structural Chemistry group.

Whereas most research projects are largely comprised of synthetic experimental work, quantum-mechanical calculations are often used in both the design and interpretation parts of the projects. This is mainly carried out in close collaboration with the Theoretical Chemistry group.

2. Research project (Master Thesis) (52.5 ects)

Coordinator: dr. ing. D.L.J. Broere

Teachers: dr. ing. D.L.J. Broere, prof. dr. R.J.M. Klein Gebbink, prof. dr. P.C.A. Bruijnincx, Dr. M.-E. Moret

Students carry out a research project under the supervision of one of the PhD students or postdocs of the group. They learn to apply the techniques that are required to make and handle organometallic compounds, organic reagents, polymers, etc. in a safe manner. Depending on the topic of the project, the student will then investigate practical aspects of selective organic reactions, such as the incorporation of chiral components in an organic molecule, or use metal complexes in catalysis, attach homogeneous catalysts to dendrimers, investigate catalyst recycling and reuse, etc. Identification and characterization of new compounds is carried by the students themselves and may include a multitude of different spectroscopic and physico-chemical techniques.

The theoretical component of the thesis includes the analysis of research data, a written report, and an oral presentation of the results.

Duration of the research project is 1 year, of which approximately 9 months practical laboratory work.