Paul Knochel

37th Paul Karrer Lecture 2015

Aula der Universität Zürich

Polyfunctional Organometallics in Organic Synthesis


Professor Paul Knochel is well known for his research on organometallic reagents, which has contributed importantly to synthetic organic chemistry during the last decades. These synthetic intermediates have provided access to new materials with outstanding physical properties, novel drugs with excellent biological activity, as well as modern highly efficient and ecologically benign agrochemicals.

The goal of his work has been the development of new synthetic methods and a practical access to polyfunctional organometallic reagents using affordable and non-toxic metals such as Mg, Al, Ti, Ca, Mn, and Fe. These new types of organometallics find an extremely broad range of applications in contemporary organic synthesis. New approaches to these reagents have been discovered, based on the beneficial influence of environmentally friendly salts such as LiCl on the preparation of these reactive intermediates. The main synthetic goal has been to design new organometallic reagents compatible with most important functional groups used in organic synthesis. The results have led to ground-breaking advances in main-group synthetic chemistry. This in turn has made a broad range of novel organometallic compounds available for applications in industry. The availability of these new organometallic reagents has revolutionized, from the view-point of economy and environmental impact, the syntheses of important drugs, modern agrochemicals, as well as compounds with new ground-breaking physical properties for sophisticated electronics.

His pioneering approach to ecologically and environmentally friendly organometallic reagents of low toxicity will have a lasting impact on the development and application of organic synthesis in academia and industry.