Our research is concerned with the chemistry of
electrophilic and/or Lewis acidic molecules with a special
focus on the discovery of novel structures and bonding
modes. We are currently studying the design of boron-,
antimony- and tellurium-containing Lewis acids as water
compatible receptors for small anions. These efforts, which
constitute the main thrust of our current research, have led
to the discovery of anion sensors for small anions,
including fluoride, cyanide and azide. Some of these
sensors can be used in water where they provide a turn-on
colorimetric or fluorescence response in the presence of the
anion. In addition to these analytical applications, we are
also applying our anion-capture strategies to the field 18F-positron
emission tomography, an imaging technique used for cancer
A second component of our work deals with the chemistry of heterobimetallic metal complexes containing a Lewis acidic main group element such as tellurium or antimony and a late transition metal. From a fundamental perspective, we are interested in the nature of the donor-acceptor bond formed between the metal which acts as a donor and the main group element which acts as an acceptor. From a more applied perspective, we are investigating the redox properties of these complexes, some of which support the photoreductive elimination of halogens. Such reactions are of interest for the discovery of new solar energy storage approaches. They also provide a means to control the Lewis acidity of the main group center and trigger the release of coordinated anions.
In addition to synthesis which lies at the heart of our research projects, our investigations also involves the extensive use of modern characterization techniques (UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR and EPR spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, electrochemistry) and computational methods (DFT calculations, AIM and NBO analysis).