Research



Research in the Figueroa Group centers on the design and synthesis of highly reactive and unusual transition metal complexes for applications ranging from small-molecule activation, catalysis and organic methodology.

We employ a bottom-up approach to the design of molecular systems. Specific electronic structure attributes are first targeted, followed by the design and synthesis of supporting groups capable of providing access and stability to molecules featuring such properties. We rely modern computational methods to predict targets of interest and a host of synthetic and spectroscopic techniques to prepare and study these unique and highly reactive compounds.


Our main research focus is on the synthesis and study of reactive metal centers supported by sterically encumbering m-terphenyl isocyanide ligands. We are attracted to these ligands for their ability to stabilize highly reactive, low-valent metal centers while at the same time enforcing low coordination numbers. The neutral isocyano functionality is portable to a wide range of transition metal fragments, thus allowing for the ability to generate a library of molecules with interesting valencies, d-electron counts and coordination geometries. For example, we are particularly interested in defining the chemistry accessible to isocyanide analogues of the unsaturated binary metal carbonyls such as Mo(CO)3, Fe(CO)4 and Ni(CO)3, in addition to heteroleptic species such as CpCo(CO). Our goals are to discover new and well-defined solution-phase reactivity patterns for these isocyanide complexes, as well as to uncover new principles in electronic and geometric structure related to the d-block elements.

Please visit our publications page for more information on current and past research projects, which have been generously supported by the following sources: