The fate of copper in atom transfer radical reactions (2015–2017)
Copper complexes of poly-amine ligands have emerged as extremely active homogeneous catalysts in atom
transfer radical reactions (forming organic radicals from alkyl halide precursors) and they are now employed
extensively in polymer and organic chemistry. The catalyst cycles between its Cu(I) and Cu(II) oxidation
states reversibly yet in both forms are susceptible to side reactions, particularly with solvent, which can lead
to loss of catalytic activity. In this proposal we will apply a multifaceted approach which will interrogate the
catalysts in both their Cu(I) and Cu(II) oxidation states and identify for the first time the pathways that lead to
undesirable side reactions and provide new ways of optimizing catalyst performance.