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Professor David Knight

Professor David Knight

Honorary Professor

School of Chemistry

Professor David Knight is a Research Professor and Honorary Professor in the Cardiff School of Chemistry.

PhD University of Nottingham (1975, G. Pattenden, synthesis of natural butenolides). Lecturer, University College, Cardiff (1976-9). Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Nottingham (1979-89). Reader, University of Nottingham (1989-95). Appointed as Professor of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Cardiff, in 1995. Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship (1995). RSC Tilden Lectureship (2005/6).

















My research interests include:

  • Natural product synthesis
  • The development of novel synthetic methods
  • Heterocyclic synthesis
  • New chemistry of reactive intermediates

The general themes which underpin my research interests are the development of novel synthetic methodologies, especially in the area of heterocyclic ring formation, and subsequent applications of these in natural product and other target syntheses.

Recent highlights have been centred on various aspects of 5-endo cyclisations, leading to saturated heterocycles and, more recently, many types of heteroaromatics, such as furans, pyrroles and indoles etc. Initially, halocyclisations were the main topics but, more recently, both proton- and metal-induced cyclisations have provided some useful and efficient methodologies, some of which look set to surpass much of the existing technology in these areas and have applications in large-scale synthesis as well.

This has led to the discovery of new ways in which overall hydroamination reactions of both alkenes and alkynes can be achieved using acid catalysts. At the centre of this research is an unprecedented method for trapping carbenium ions with amines, which will no doubt provide contributions to many target syntheses.

This interest in reactive intermediates is also reflected in our studies of new ways to prepare benzynes, which have led to the first methods for trapping these by alcohol groups. Currently, we are applying this new chemistry in natural product target synthesis.

Uncatalysed cyclisations are another interest: the reverse Cope reaction features such an addition of hydroxylamines to alkenes and we are studying applications of this in pyrrolidine synthesis.