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K. Peter C. Vollhardt

Professor of Chemistry, UC Berkeley; CSD Senior Faculty Scientist, Catalysis and Chemical Transformations Program

Professor of Chemistry
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Chemistry
402 Latimer Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1460

Location:635 Latimer Hall
Telephone:(510) 642-0286
Fax:(510) 643-5208

Catalysis and Chemical Transformations Program


A Brief Bio:
K. Peter C. Vollhardt was born in Madrid, raised in Buenos Aires and Munich, studied at the University of Munich, got his Ph.D. with Professor Peter Garratt at the University College London, and was a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Bob Bergman (then) at the California Institute of Technology. He moved to Berkeley in 1974 when he began his efforts towards the development of organocobalt reagents in organic synthesis, the preparation of theoretically interesting hydrocarbons, the assembly of novel transition metal arrays with potential in catalysis, and the discovery of a parking space. Among other pleasant experiences, he was a Studienstiftler, Adolf Windaus medalist, Humboldt Senior Scientist, ACS Organometallic Awardee, Otto Bayer Prize Awardee, A.C. Cope Scholar, and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Prize Holder. He is the current Chief Editor of SYNLETT. Among his 253 publications, he treasures especially his textbook in Organic Chemistry, translated into seven languages.

Research Interests:
Transition metals and novel synthetic methodology enable the synthesis of complex natural and unnatural products.

Professor Vollhardt and his coworkers are interested in the application of transition metals to organic synthesis. The areas under investigation range from the assembly of novel oligometallic arrays to the use of cobalt, palladium, and nickel in the construction of complex organic molecules.

For example, his group has developed ways to attach cyclopentadienylmetal units repeatedly to other p-ligands, such as cyclopentadienyl itself. In this way, a number of potentially catalytic and conducting oligocyclopentadienylmetals with remarkable properties have become available for further exploration.

A second effort underway is directed at further exploring the scope of the cobalt-mediated [2+2+2]cycloaddition of alkynes to other unsaturated substrates, a reaction pioneered by the Vollhardt group. Recent work has focused on "tagging" heteroaromatic systems, such as the indole alkaloids, resulting in a total synthesis of strychnine and a novel approach to morphinoids.

A third problem is concerned with the synthesis of molecules of theoretical importance, in particular highly strained hydrocarbons and molecules with electronically destabilizing features. These include the phenylenes, a class of novel benzenoids in which benzene and cyclobutadiene are fused in an alternating manner. Their properties are remarkable, in particular with respect to cyclohexatrienic reactivity of the benzene nuclei and their potential to behave as organic magnets and conductors.