Special Issue "Bond Activation and Catalysis Using Main-Group Elements"

A special issue of Inorganics (ISSN 2304-6740). This special issue belongs to the section "Coordination Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jianbing "Jimmy" Jiang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210172, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Interests: electrocatalysis; main-group element catalysis; electrochemical energy storage; redox flow batteries

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,                                        

Molecular catalysis represents one of the major categories in the broad catalysis field. Molecular catalysis research has primarily focused on transition metal-based catalysts owing to their high catalytic efficiency and activity. The success of transition-metal catalysis is attributed to the transition metal’s valence d-orbitals and unique interaction between metals and ligands, resulting in important features such as fast redox kinetics. However, the use of transition metals may also raise issues related to sustainability, such as high cost and high toxicity, which has prompted the research for alternative catalytic systems that offer comparable or higher catalytic activities with fewer drawbacks. The advancement of main-group element catalysts with comparable catalytic efficiency and activity is a critical step towards widespread use of main-group elements in bond activation and catalysis. This Special Issue aims to collect research articles and critical reviews that highlight recent advances in the broad field of main-group element-based bond activation and catalysis.

Dr. Jianbing "Jimmy" Jiang
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Inorganics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Main-group element catalysis
  • Main-group element chemistry
  • Bond activation
  • Electrocatalysis

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Main group elements for the activation of small molecules: A review
Authors: Jianbing "Jimmy" Jiang
Affiliation: Department of Chemistry, University of Cincinnati, P.O. Box 210172, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA
Abstract: Electrochemical energy conversion is promising for reducing environmental pollution and meeting the growing energy demand. Until now, the catalysis chemistry of transition metals is more extensively investigated than that of the main group elements due to the presence of partially filled valence d orbitals and the reactivity with small molecules such as H2, CO, C2H4 etc. However, the heavier main group compounds resemble the chemistry of transition metals owing to the presence of unoccupied and occupied frontier orbitals that are accessible energetically. The reactivity of these complexes can be attributed to the modest HOMO-LUMO energy gap, which is mostly known for the transition metals. Since the past few decades immense progress has been made in the activation of small molecules using main group elements. This review focuses on the developments of catalysts using main group elements for 4 broad electrocatalytic reactions- CO2 reduction, proton reduction, oxygen reduction, and water oxidation.

Title: Phenolic 3° Phosphine Oxides as a Class of Metal-Free Catalysts for the Activation of C–O Bonds in Aliphatic Alcohols: Direct Synthesis of Catalyst Candidates, and Kinetic Studies
Authors: Aaron Bloomfield
Affiliation: Duquesne University
Abstract: It was recently reported that a (2-hydroxybenzyl)phosphine oxide (2-HOBPO) can serve as a phosphorus-centered catalyst for the stereo-invertive coupling of aliphatic alcohols and acidic pronucleophiles (akin to a Mitsunobu reaction, but without additional reagents). Herein, we re-port an improved synthesis, which provides direct access to systematically varied 2-HOBPOs in a single step from commercially available precursors (salicylaldehydes and secondary phosphines). The efficiency and generality of the synthetic method enabled limited structure-activity-relationship (SAR) studies, from which it was determined that substituents on both the phenolic and phosphine oxide portions can exert significant influence on the turnover frequency (TOF) of each catalyst. Importantly, for all catalytically active 2-HOBPOs examined, the molecularity of catalyst in the rate law of the alcohol coupling was determined to be < 1. Thus, for high catalyst loadings, differences in catalytic activity between 2-HOBPOs appears to be dominated by differences in catalytic auto-inhibition, while for low catalyst loadings, differences are attributed to inherent differences in the energetic span of the catalytic cycle, ignoring off-cycle species, in good agreement with DFT modeling at the ωB97X-D / 6-311G(d,p) level.

Title: Coumarins synthesis and transformation via C-H bond activation
Authors: Dr. Katarzyna Szwaczko
Affiliation: Department of Organic Chemistry, Institute of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry, Marie Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Gliniana St. 33, 20-614 Lublin, Poland
Abstract: For several decades, coumarins have received attention due to applications in diverse fields such medical science, biomedical research, and several industrial branches. Recently, many compounds, which contain the coumarin moiety have been intensively studied, mainly due to their biological activity, such as antitumor, antioxidation, anti-HIV, vasorelaxant, antimicrobial and anticancer activity. They are also widely used as fluorescent dyes and probes because of their high structural flexibility and high fluorescent quantum yields. For this reason, many effort are devoted to the development of new and more practical methods for the synthesis of these compounds. This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview of coumarin synthesis methods by direct C–H bond activation, in order to demonstrate the current state of the art methods as well as the current limitations.

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