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Asymmetric catalysis using environmentally benign calcium complexes

Please note that this is a self-funded project.

Research in the Ward group is concerned with the catalytic applications of main group and early transition metal organometallic and coordination complexes.

The group has a particular interest in the development of new chiral catalysts based upon the alkaline earth, lanthanide, and early transition metals.

Our research involves a significant amount of organic and inorganic syntheses, catalyst testing and optimisation, and mechanistic determination using state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques and computational modelling methods.

Project aims and method

The research specifically concentrates on the Alkaline Earth metals (magnesium, calcium and strontium) and the lanthanide metals:

  • Preparation of new ligand environments for S-block and early transition metals
  • Development of asymmetric catalytic reactions using alkaline earth and lanthanide metals
  • Analysis of the coordination chemistry of alkaline earth and lanthanide metals when supported by chiral ligand environments
  • Reaction mechanism determination using spectroscopic analysis of catalytic intermediates

One of our recent highlights has been the development of chiral calcium complexes for the asymmetric hydroamination of amino-olefins. In our latest publications, we reported the highest enantioselectivity for this reaction when using calcium as an environmentally friendly and inexpensive alternative to precious metal catalysts.

One of the major challenges associated with the coordination complexes of calcium is their propensity to undergo ligands redistribution, or "Schlenk" equilibria. This is a significant problem in relation to their catalytic performance, and ligands need to be designed that are able to control or supress these processes.

In order to achieve our aims in catalysis, a significant amount of effort is spent on the development of new chiral ligands. We have recently reported a general route to a class of N-functionalised ethylene diamines, which can be employed either as ligands in their own right, or as precursors for preparing imidazoline ligands.

Academic criteria

We require you to have a 2.2 BSc or equivalent to be considered for PhD study.

If English is not your first language that you must fulfil our English Language criteria before the start of your studies. Accepted English Language qualifications for admissions.

How to apply

To apply for this post please make an online application for a PhD in Chemistry, clearly stating the project title and Dr Ben Ward as the supervisor.

Applications are accepted all year round and is open to self funded Home, EU and International students.


Dr Ben Ward

Dr Ben Ward

Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry

+44 (0)29 2087 0302

Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Chemistry programme.

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Join us from 10:00 - 15:00 on Wednesday 4 December to find out more about postgraduate study at Cardiff University.

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