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The versatile metal-boron multiple bond: application of borylenes to metathesis, catalysis, and macromolecules

Final Report Summary - BORYLENEFUN (The versatile metal-boron multiple bond: application of borylenes to metathesis, catalysis, and macromolecules)

This ERC Advanced Grant project entitled The Versatile Metal-Boron Multiple Bond: Application of Borylenes to Metathesis, Catalysis, and Macromolecules (2011-2016) concerned molecular compounds containing multiple bonding between boron and a transition metal, so-called "transition metal borylene complexes". These compounds were discovered by the project PI, Prof. Holger Braunschweig, in the late 1990s, however, research into these complexes was in its infancy at the beginning of this project. The funding allowed the PI to build a strong and interdisciplinary research subgroup dedicated to the study of these fascinating molecules, including chemical technicians, Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers specialised in experimental organometallic chemistry and computational chemistry.

Transition metal borylene complexes are in general highly reactive compounds that require extensive experimental skills in order to prepare and store. However, these difficulties are offset by the fascinating reactivity of the compounds. The project has focused on a number of areas at different ends of the topic: making new borylenes with different structures, properties and reactivities, and exploring their reactivity with different compounds. This has led to a massive expansion of the possible structures of the compounds, as well as a number of new reactivity patterns and products that have interesting reactivity in their own right. A key example of this is the very first example of dicarbonylation of a boron atom, a process that is common for transition metals but has never been observed with main group elements. This work was published in 2015 in the top general science journal Nature and received attention from a number of scientific magazines and news websites.

Overall, the project led to the publication of over 50 peer-reviewed articles, nearly 40 of which appeared in premier general science or general chemistry journals. The project has led to two faculty positions for its researchers (University of Sussex and Hiroshima University), as well as a number of plenary lectures and awards for the PI, including major awards such as the Alfred Stock Memorial Award of the German Chemical Society and the Main Group Chemistry Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry. The work has also led to the award of a DAAD-DST Germany-India grant for collaborative research, as well as the award of over 20M€ for a new research institute at the Universität Würzburg dedicated to chemistry and catalysis of boron.