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Lenny Terry

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Ligands for Catalyzing Chemical Reactions

Combines Carbene Ligands with Transition Metals to Catalyze Safer and Less Toxic Products

These metal complexes supported by carbene ligands are cheaper and more effective alternatives to phosphine ligands for catalyzing chemical reactions. Phosphine ligands attached to transition metals are common catalysts in the pharmaceutical industry and in other chemical applications. Unfortunately, phosphine ligands can be toxic and are often unstable. Thus, there is always a need for cheaper, cleaner, more stable, efficient, and selective catalysts.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed catalysts that meet this need using carbene ligands. These catalysts are far less expensive and toxic, as well as modular and more selective than phosphine ligands.



Carbene ligand compounds that catalyze chemical reactions



  • Catalyzes reactions using cheaper chemical compounds, decreasing overall cost
  • Creates exceptionally strong bonds to transition metals, preventing catalyst degradation, prolonging catalyst lifetimes, and improving efficiency
  • Lowers toxicity compared to phosphine ligands, improving safety of chemical reactions and consumer product synthesis
  • Reduces difficulty associated with modifying and fine-tuning catalysts, enabling market adoption in a wide range of applications


These carbene ligands combine with transition metals to catalyze a wide variety of reactions to produce safer and less toxic products. For example, in pharmaceutical drug production, these ligands produce only one enantiomer of a chiral compound. This is advantageous because drugs typically have two enantiomers, with the non-toxic one being responsible for healing effects and the toxic one causing harmful side effects. Eliminating the toxic one thus eliminates side effects. Furthermore, these carbene ligands increase the efficiency of chemical reactions when compared to phosphine ligands because they give higher yields and catalyze a wider variety of reactions.

Research Terms: Engineering > Chemical Engineering
Keywords: Asymmetric, Catalysis, Chemical, Chiral, Enantioselective, Engineering, N-Heterocyclic Carbene, Rhodium,;
Technology Inventors: Khalil Abboud
Mathew Jeletic
Roxy Swails
Adam Veige
Technology Information URL:
University: University of Florida
Tech Transfer URL:

Associated Patents

Patent Name: Catalysts containing N-heterocyclic carbenes for enantioselective synthesis
Patent Number: US Patent 8,455,661
Patent Status: Issued
Issue Date: June 4, 2013
Patent Record: View full record at google patents
View full record at United States Patent and Trademark Office
Patent Inventors: Roxy Swails
Mathew Jeletic
Khalil Abboud
Adam Veige

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