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“Pioneering work in our laboratories has proven

that complexes of the type [LxM=B-R] not only

stabilise elusive borylenes B-R in the co-

ordination sphere of various transition metals

but, more importantly, serve as unprecedented

sources for these species under ambient

conditions in condensed phase. Thus, the major

objective of the current proposal is to establish

novel reactivity patterns based on B-R

fragments for the functionalisation of

organometallic and organic substrates.

Particular attention will be paid to the synthesis

of novel molecular and polymeric species with

significant potential as materials.

“Given the pronounced importance of boron-

containing species in organic synthesis,

catalysis and materials science, the proposed

project is expected to have a significant impact

on these areas of applied molecular science. In

addition, a wide range of fundamental aspects

will be covered, targeting, e.g., novel

conjugated cyclic systems or molecules with

unprecedented boron-element combinations,”

continued Braunschweig.

“The following subjects will be pursued: cationic

and anionic dimetalloborylenes as complementary

building blocks in synthesis; application of borylene

metathesis in stoichiometric and catalytic

transformations; and borylene transfer for

IN

May, the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg in

Germany announced that chemist Holger Braunschweig

had joined an elite group of European researchers who

have been awarded a second ‘advanced grant’, the largest research

grant offered by the European Research Council (ERC). The leading

researcher is receiving €2.5m in order to explore the unprecedented

new bonding possibilities of the element boron.

Braunschweig, professor of inorganic chemistry at the University of

Würzburg, is an expert in the field of boron chemistry. Boron is a direct

neighbour of perhaps the most well-explored element on the periodic

table: carbon. Whilst the chemistry of carbon, known as organic

chemistry, is the key foundation of life on Earth, the chemistry of its next-

door neighbour boron is dramatically underexplored.

The awarding of the advanced grant from the ERC will fund a

comprehensive research programme based on multiple bonding between

boron atoms, a phenomenon that until recently was extremely difficult

to realise in a laboratory. Driving the work beyond fundamental goals are

the outstanding physical properties of the compounds made in

Braunschweig’s research group.

This boron-boron multiple bonding has already been used in the synthesis

of highly reactive radicals, polymers, highly coloured and luminescent

molecules, and in reactions of industrially relevant gases such as carbon

monoxide and hydrogen. The funding from the ERC will be used to fully

exploit the unusual reactivity and properties of these molecules, with an

eye towards applications in electronics and materials chemistry.

First grant

Braunschweig’s first ERC advanced grant was awarded in 2011 for five

years to aid research into multiple bonds between boron and metals.

The grant, worth nearly €2.5m, supports ‘The versatile metal-boron

multiple bond: application of borylenes to metathesis, catalysis, and

macromolecules’, or BORYLENEFUN, project. The venture has led to the

discovery of metal-boron systems that allow the simple, controlled

creation of boron-boron and boron-carbon bonds, as well as the

controlled ‘liberation’ of these boron atoms from their metal hosts.

In comments carried by the ERC, Braunschweig detailed the background

to his first ERC-funded project: “Borylated molecules and polymers are of

great interest due to their broad application in organic synthesis and

materials science. The functionalisation of organic substrates with boryl

groups R2B is based on classical synthetic methods, e.g. hydro and

diboration of C-C multiple bonds. Likewise, borylenes B-R should be

versatile reagents for corresponding functionalisations; however, the

chemistry of such species remained unexplored due to their high instability.

I S S U E S E V E N

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

www.horizon2020projects.com

62

C H E M I S T R Y

Blue sky boron

As chemist

Holger Braunschweig

joins an elite group of researchers who have

secured two ERC advanced grants,

Portal

details his latest study into the

element boron

Polycrystalline chunks

of rhombohedral

β

-boron

© James L Marshall