Homogeneous Catalysis

Our research aims towards the invention of new strategies for the development of “perfect chemical reactions” that combine quantitative yields and high atom economy, while avoiding toxic solvents, protecting group strategies, extreme temperatures, or inert gas atmosphere. We approach this ultimate goal by using selective catalysis based on small organic molecules. In recent years, it has been demonstrated that these organocatalysts can be as efficient and selective as the more commonly used metal-based catalysts, leading to a rapid growth of this field of research all around the globe. As a result of our ongoing investigations, our group was the first to demonstrate the concept of asymmetric counteranion-directed catalysis (ACDC) in 2005. Further investigations target the application of organocatalytic reactions in the synthesis of drugs and natural products.

Research Topics:

We explore small-molecule amines as asymmetric catalysts for carbonyl transformations. “Asymmetric Aminocatalysis” functions by activating carbonyl compounds as iminium ions and enamines using a catalytic amount of an amine. Our strategy complements.... [more]
Due to the vast number of reactions that can be catalyzed by Brønsted acids, a core area of our research focuses on the development and application of chiral organic Brønsted acids for asymmetric counteranion-directed catalysis (ACDC). To date...
To date, the field of Lewis acid catalysis has been dominated by (transition) metal chemistry. To provide purely organic counterparts to these traditional catalytic systems we are dedicated to the synthesis and identification of organic Lewis acids. In 2009, we demonstrated that our chiral disulfonimides (DSI) are not only excellent Brønsted acids, but form strong Lewis acids upon silylation. [more]
The Mülheim Chemistry Campus honors early career scientists with Ernst Haage Awards

The symposium highlighted concepts of sustainable chemistry and exceptional scientific talents

Feels truly grateful: Benjamin List receives the Honorary Doctorate of the Freie Universität Berlin.

A special trip to Berlin

October 26, 2023

Benjamin List, director at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung and winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, earned his chemistry degree at Freie Universität zu Berlin. Now his alma mater has awarded him an honorary doctorate. more

Ina Brandes and Prof. Ferdi Schüth have a closer look at the reactions in the high pressure laboratories of the institute.

Science Minister Ina Brandes visits the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung more

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Katalyse für die Welt

Video February 27, 2020

Katalyse für die Welt more

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