Research

Primary areas of interest

Research Overview

The primary focus of the Wickens group is the discovery and development of new catalytic principles to address longstanding challenges in organic synthesis. Our central hypothesis is that classically reactive species, such as radical and ionic intermediates, can be tamed and deployed as potent catalysts. Our recent efforts have focused on the electrochemical generation of new radical ion organocatalysts that exhibit extreme reactivity without sacrificing chemoselectivity. Additionally, these investigations have led us to explore how electrochemistry and photochemistry can be synergistically leveraged to enable otherwise infeasible reactions. Each of the projects we pursue balances mechanistically guided development of novel catalytic strategies with the introduction of useful new synthetic methodologies.

Representative project area:
Electron-Primed Photoredox Catalysis

We have developed a new catalytic strategy wherein we electrochemically access radical anion photocatalysts possessing extremely reducing excited states far beyond those of classical photoredox catalysts. We exploited this platform to engage otherwise inert substrates in radical coupling reactions that exhibited exceptional functional group tolerance, despite operating at reduction potentials analogous to classic dissolving metal conditions.