Chemical Engineering

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Deborah Kays

University of Nottingham
United Kingdom


Dr Deborah Kays undertook her MChem (Hons) and PhD degrees from Cardiff University. For her PhD she undertook investigations into the synthesis and reactivity of novel transition metal complexes of boron, under the supervision of Prof. Simon Aldridge (now at Oxford University). A postdoctoral position, also with Simon Aldridge, followed, which saw her research interests expand into the synthesis and reactivity of B/N vinylidene analogues, low-coordinate complexes featuring the heavier group 13 elements and Lewis acidic boryl compounds for C-H activation chemistry. Deborah took up a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford (2005-2007), which allowed her to build up an independent research programme investigating the synthesis and bonding of low-coordinate main group and transition metal centres. She was appointed Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Nottingham in 2007, and promoted to Associate Professor in 2014.

Research Interest

My research interests lie with organometallic and coordination chemistry; my particular area of interest involves the stabilisation of complexes which challenge the accepted ideas of bonding, for example the stabilisation of main group and transition metal complexes with unusual oxidation states and bonding modes. This work is focussed on the development of new synthetic methodologies and the use of sterically demanding ligand systems to support novel unsaturated and highly reactive compounds. From a fundamental structure/bonding viewpoint the generation and analysis of bonding and reactivity of these systems is essential if a comprehensive model of bonding in these compounds is to be established. Additionally, from a more applied perspective, I am also interested in the examination of the structure/activity relationships of low-coordinate and highly reactive centres with a view to their exploitation in catalysis. The Kays group utilises standard anaerobic techniques (Schlenk line, glove box) in the manipulation of these highly sensitive compounds, and the characterisation of new complexes includes single crystal X-ray diffraction measurements, mass spectrometry, magnetometry, NMR and EPR spectroscopy; the synthetic and structural studies being complemented by computational calculations. Research is focussed particularly on four main areas; (i) coordinatively and electronically unsaturated transition metal complexes, (ii) dinuclear complexes with high bond orders, (iii) the stabilisation of the heavier group 2 organometallics and (iv) dinuclear and cluster systems of the group 2 and 12 metals.

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