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Nathan D. Schley



The aim of the Schley research group is the application of organometallic chemistry to unmask latent reactivity in organic substrates. Oxidation of simple hydrocarbons provides functional groups which serve as handles for further transformations, but methods for selective oxidation of C-H bonds are limited. Our goal is to meet the challenge of enabling new oxidative, catalytic transformations of C-H bonds by making use of unconventional activation strategies.

Our current research focuses on the activation of ethers. Although ubiquitous in organic chemistry, the relative inertness of ethers relative to other functional groups has largely relegated simple alkyl ethers to roles as reaction solvents. As a result, there are significant opportunities for new methods for ether functionalization. We are developing organometallic platforms for ether α-C-H cleavage to the corresponding metallo-alkoxyalkyl or alkoxycarbene species including as part of new catalytic reactions of ethers. Alongside this work, we are investigating mild methods for ether cleavage and deoxygenation, including in substrates like carbohydrates with significant applications in human health.