Prof Keith Smith - BSc MSc PhD CChem FRSC FLSW
- Novel synthetic methods in organic chemistry, especially ones that are “greener” than traditionally
- Use of zeolites and solid-supported reagents and catalysts to gain selectivity in organic reactions
- Main group organometallic compounds, especially of lithium and boron, as selective reagents
- Heterocyclic chemistry
- Novel compounds with interesting chemiluminescent or other photoactive properties
The main thrust of our research work has always been to develop novel methods that have general synthetic utility. Our early work concentrated on the applications of organoboron reagents, which at the time were relatively little known, but are now extremely widely used. This led us into the applications of other main group elements and especially lithiation reactions, which we have used to devise novel heterocyclic ring syntheses and to introduce selectivity into aromatic and heterocyclic substitution reactions.
In recent years much of our novel synthetic methods research has been oriented towards reactions and products rather than reagents and in particular we are developing new approaches (more eco-friendly - “green” - than traditional processes) for the synthesis of commercially important products, especially in the area of selective electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions, which are of major industrial importance but are traditionally often very unselective and messy reactions. We have recently started up a company, CatCelt Ltd, to commercialise some of our innovations in this area. One of the major tools to provide the selectivity is the use of microporous solid catalysts such as zeolites. We are also interested in supported catalysts and reagents, where the supports can be inorganic or an organic polymer.
We are also interested in synthesising target compounds that have interesting properties. Many such compounds have a heterocyclic ring at the centre of their structure and we are therefore interested in synthesis of heterocyclic compounds in a generic way. However, we have more specific interests in chemiluminescent biological probes, which we have developed in collaboration with a Cardiff-based company for use in medical diagnosis and other fields.