Emeritus Professor Brian Nicholson

Emeritus Professor (Chemistry)

Qualifications: B.Sc.(Hons) Otago, Ph.D. Otago, Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Sussex, 1974-5. Fellow, NZ Institute of Chemistry (1977).

Research Interests

Current research is focussed on the chemistry of arsenic and antimony, This arose from a project investigating the chemistry and microbiology of the historically-important pharmaceutical Salvarsan. Development of the arsenic chemistry lead naturally to the compounds of the congener antimony and this has given rise to some interesting polyoxometallates with large cage structures.

Another of our ongoing interests centres around the use of organometallic reagents in organic synthesis. Particular success has been achieved using a very general cyclometallation reaction of aryl ketones with manganese carbonyls to provide convenient substrates for C-C bond forming reactions, and for other derivatisations. Related chemistry of unsaturated ketones has led to new syntheses of pyrylium salts and of seven-membered ring species, while cyclomanganation and cyclorhenation of azabutadienes has given novel compounds. Extension of this chemistry to cyclometallated compounds of gold, platinum and palladium has been developed more recently.

Another long-standing interest relates to compounds incorporating both transition metals and the main group elements silicon, germanium or tin. Characterisation by spectroscopic methods and by single-crystal X-ray crystallography provides insights into the nature of metal-metal bonding.

The application of the relatively new analytical technique electrospray mass spectrometry to organometallic problems is an evolving area which shows great promise for characterising compounds. New methods have been optimised for the analysis of metal carbonyl compounds and applied to several topics in collaboration with other groups. This technique has proved invaluable in the As/Sb work mentioned above.

The wider application of X-ray crystallography to molecular structure determination is a recurring theme in many of the studies, with a detailed analysis of Pt2S2 derivatives being a recent focus, in collaboration with Professor Henderson.

ESMS spectrum of [Ru6C(CO)14(C16H16)OMe]

Research Supervised


Toshie Asamizu - Taming Reactive Main Group Element Hydrides
Oguejiofo Ujam - Synthesis and Characterization of Functionalized Alkylated Products of [Pt2(µ-S)2(PPh3)4]
Kyle Devey
Bevan Jarman - Making asymmetric ligands from carbohydrates

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