Designing immobilized catalysts for chemical transformations: new platforms to tune the accessibility of active sites
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Chemical catalysts are divided into two traditional categories: homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts. Although homogeneous (molecular) catalysts tend to have high activity and selectivity, their wide application is hampered by the difficulties in catalyst separation. In contrast, the vast majority of industrial scale catalysts are heterogeneous catalysts based on solid materials. Immobilized catalysts, combining the advantages of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts, have developed into an important field in catalysis research. This dissertation presents synthesis, characterization and evaluation of several novel immobilized catalysts. In the first part, MNP supported aluminum isoproxide was developed for ROP of Є-caprolactone to achieve facile magnetic separation of catalysts from polymerization system and reduce toxic metal residues in the poly(caprolactone) product. Chapter 3 presents a silica coated MNP supported DMAP catalyst that was synthesized and displayed good activity and regio-selectivity in epoxide ring opening reactions. In Chapter 4, hybrid sulfonic acid catalysts based on polymer brush materials have been developed. The unique polymer brush architecture permits high catalyst loadings as well as easy accessibility of the active sites to be achieved in this catalytic system. In Chapter 5, aminopolymer-silica composite supported Pd catalysts with good activity and selectivity were developed for the selective hydrogenation of alkynes. In this case, the aminopolymer composite works as a stabilizer for palladium nanoparticles, as well as a modifier to tune the catalyst selectivity. All in all, the general theme of the thesis is developing new immobilized catalysts with improved activity/selectivity as well as easy separation via rational catalyst design.