Alkali Metals

Academic and industrial laboratories use organoalkali metal-based reagents to achieve the syntheses of compounds important to medicine. The underlying aggregates and central importance of solvation make these reagents structurally and mechanistically confounding.

Through a combination of structural and mechanistic studies, David Collum, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, is addressing key issues related to alkali metal reactivity and selectivity. Treating solvation as a molecular rather than bulk phenomenon is central to Collum’s research.

His lab is emphasizing the role of non-covalent auxiliaries and focusing on two subsets of alkali metal chemistry that have proven virtually impenetrable to careful scrutiny: lithium enolates and sodium amides. The studies are focused on non-covalent auxiliaries—stoichiometrically formed mixed aggregates of lithium enolates and catalytically active triamines in organosodium chemistry.

Collum is investigating new paradigms for controlling stereoselective transformations in which academic and industrial synthetic organic chemists are very interested. His goal is to find universal additives—amino alkoxides for lithium enolates and chiral triamines for the organosodium reactions.

NIH Award Number: 1R35GM131713-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$2.79 Million spanning 5 years