11 Catalysis Chemistry Pioneers Every Researcher Should Know About - ACS Axial
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11 Catalysis Chemistry Pioneers Every Researcher Should Know About

Accounts in ACS Catalysis are reviews of prominent catalysis researcher’s scientific contributions. Current or former associates of the scientist or engineer write these special contributions. Accounts include details of the researcher’s career, including the new findings and advances made. To read more about these catalysis scientists, follow the links below.

Howard Alper

Still going strong in his seventies, Professor Howard Alper continues to make an impact on chemistry internationally. This Account highlights some of his key scientific achievements in catalysis. What began as a fundamental interest in the chemistry of metal carbonyls and their activity modes, evolved into a versatile program addressing some of the most significant and challenging issues in catalysis. Using well-defined metal carbonyl complexes, he and his lab were able to make fundamental insights into diverse transformations involving the catalytic properties of metal carbonyls, including carbonylative ring expansions. His creative and truly interdisciplinary research in catalysis has also resulted in notable contributions to carbonylation, hydrofunctionalization, and cycloaddition chemistry.

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Frances H. Arnold

On the occasion of Professor Frances H. Arnold’s recent acceptance of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, we honor her numerous contributions to the fields of directed evolution and biocatalysis. Arnold pioneered the development of directed evolution methods for engineering enzymes as biocatalysts. Her highly interdisciplinary research has provided grounds not only for understanding the mechanisms of enzyme evolution but also for developing commercially viable enzyme biocatalysts and biocatalytic processes. In this Account, we highlight some of her notable contributions in the past three decades in the development of foundational directed evolution methods and their applications in the design and engineering of enzymes with desired functions for biocatalysis. Her work has created a paradigm shift in the broad catalysis field.

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Alexis T. Bell

On the occasion of Alexis T. Bell’s fiftieth year at Berkeley, we are honored to discuss a few aspects of his extensive contributions to catalysis, reaction engineering, and understanding of molecular-scale structure in catalytic processes. The illustrations provided here help reveal some of his traits most valued by our community: a drive to employ the best methods of instrumentational and computational analysis available; the instinct to search for the essence of the most important problems at hand, and the skill to write about them with exceptional clarity; and the formation and nurturing of collaborative teams to focus on the most essential questions.

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John Bercaw

On the occasion of Professor John Bercaw’s 70th birthday, we reflect and highlight his distinguished career in organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis. What began as a fundamental interest in the chemistry of bis(cyclopentadienyl)titanium compounds and their interaction with molecular nitrogen evolved into a vibrant and diverse program tackling some of the most important problems in catalysis. Using well-defined organometallic compounds, fundamental insights were gained in the mechanism of CO reduction; basic transformations of organometallic chemistry, such as alkene insertion and alkyl β-hydrogen elimination; the origin of stereocontrol in metallocene-catalyzed polymerization; and in the activation of hydrocarbons by electrophilic late transition metals.

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Maurice Brookhart

On the occasion of Professor Maurice Brookhart’s retirement and recent acceptance of the Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis, we honor his numerous contributions to the fields of organometallic chemistry and catalysis. His truly interdisciplinary research has resulted in seminal contributions to polymer, synthetic, and mechanistic organometallic and organic chemistry. Detailed mechanistic investigations that have provided unparalleled understanding of these reactions have been supplemented by the development of new chemical methodology and polymerization processes. In this Account, we present some of his notable contributions toward understanding the chemistry of electrophilic transition-metal carbene complexes and agostic interactions, metal-catalyzed olefin polymerization and copolymerization reactions, and metal-mediated C–H bond activation and functionalization processes.

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Odile Eisenstein

On the occasion of Professor Odile Eisenstein’s 70th birthday and her stepping down as Associate Editor of ACS Catalysis, we reflect on and highlight her distinguished career in computational chemistry and homogeneous catalysis. In this Review, we present selected examples of her early work on the computational understanding of transition-metal complexes and the evolution of the field toward the quantitative reproduction of these systems, with a final focus on her specific contributions to important catalytic processes including olefin metathesis, σ-bond metathesis, and catalytic oxidations.

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Masatake Haruta

Professor Masatake Haruta’s distinguished scientific achievements are highlighted in heterogeneous catalysis by gold (Au). In 1982, he discovered that Au became highly active for CO oxidation even at 200 K when gold was deposited as nanoparticles (NPs) smaller than 5 nm on 3d transition metal oxides. After this finding, he and his co-workers have developed many preparation methods for the deposition of Au as NPs and clusters onto a wide variety of supports. By kinetic, theoretical, and surface science studies, Haruta and co-workers revealed interesting catalytic features of Au, including reaction mechanisms which are greatly different from those of Pd and Pt. Haruta and co-workers also found that supported Au NPs catalyzed direct oxidation of propylene to propylene oxide using O2 and H2, and subsequently O2 alone in the presence of H2O.

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Vladimir Nikolaevich Ipatieff

Vladimir Nikolaevich Ipatieff contributed significantly to the birth of catalysis, first in Russia, then in Chicago at Northwestern University and UOP, and provided a strong base from which those of us practicing now continue to build. Among the discoveries in which he participated are the dehydration of alcohols to alkenes including ethanol to ethylene, the elucidation of the structure of isoprene, methods of butadiene synthesis, catalysts for hydrogenation, and the discovery and commercialization of oligomerization, paraffin alkylation, and acid-catalyzed aromatic alkylation. These discoveries and his enduring contributions in the form of the Ipatieff Prize and student education have ensured Ipatieff’s place in the chronicle of catalysis.

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Max McDaniel

Still going strong in his seventies, some of the work of Dr. Max McDaniel is briefly described in this account. Regarded as a titan of polyolefin catalysis by his industrial and academic colleagues, he arguably stands among the topmost important scientists to ever make contributions to the polyolefin industry. Several of the highlights and insights he has contributed to the field over his long and prolific career are summarized.

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Masakatsu Shibasaki

Professor Masakatsu Shibasaki’s distinguished scientific accomplishments in the field of asymmetric catalysis are compiled here with particular emphasis on multimetallic cooperative catalysis. In 1992, he discovered revolutionary multimetallic chiral complexes composed of a rare earth metal, alkaline metals, and 1,1′-binaphthyl-2-binaphthols (BINOLs) that promoted a number of enantioselective reactions in a highly efficient and stereoselective manner. This finding resulted in chiral multimetallic catalysts that have significantly advanced the field of enantioselective catalysis.

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Takashi Tatsumi

On the occasion of Professor Takashi Tatsumi’s retirement and winning of the Alwin Mittasch Prize, some of his main achievements in zeolite catalysis are summarized, with a focus on the design, synthesis, and catalytic application of new titanosilicate catalysts. He and his co-workers succeeded in the direct synthesis of the MWW-type titanosilicate, Ti-MWW, by employing boric acid in the synthesis and thereafter developed a dry gel conversion method for boron-reduced Ti-MWW as well as a secondary isomorphous substitution route for boron-free Ti-MWW molecular sieves. In particular, the postsynthetic conversion involved a reversible structure interchange between three-dimensional silicalite and a two-dimensional layered precursor. Taking advantage of the structural diversity of the layered MWW zeolite precursor, phase-delaminated Ti-MMW and interlayer expanded Ti-MWW were also prepared. Using hydrogen peroxide as an oxidant, the Ti-MWW/H2O2 system was highly efficient for liquid-phase oxidation of a variety of substrates, particularly the epoxidation of alkenes and ammoximation of ketones. Some of the Ti-MWW-catalyzed reactions have already led to or are becoming practical catalytic technologies in industrial practice. Several other recent achievements in the synthesis and catalytic applications of other titanosilicates, zeolitic hydrid materials, and solid acid zeolite catalysts are also briefly summarized.

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