Fondation Latsis Internationale Award 2013 - Nicolai Cramer
Nicolai Cramer has been awarded the Fondation Latsis Internationale Award 2013 for his contributions to catalytic processes and the development of new catalysts
Nicolai Cramer has been awarded for his contributions to catalytic processes and the development of new catalysts that selectively activate and functionalize asymmetric carbon-hydrogen bonds. These new catalysts enable access to a wide and diverse range of molecular building blocks with important biological applications.
The research field is asymmetric catalysis for the selective functionalizations of carbon-hydrogen bonds. Catalysis is a critical process and 90 % of all chemical products have contact with a catalyst during their manufacture. In asymmetric catalysis, Nicolai Cramer uses chiral metal complexes to control syntheses in such a way that they become enantioselective. This allows producing only one version of two molecules that are a mirror image of each other. The demand for such molecules is high as for example two enantiomers of the same drug often have different or even adverse modes of action.
Carbon-hydrogen bonds are very widespread and almost every molecule contains several of these bonds. The reactivity of these bonds is extremely low and it is difficult to make use of them in syntheses. However, their functionalization provides enormous benefits, because the spectrum of raw materials is much wider and process is more efficient compared to existing synthetic methods. Nicolai Cramer has succeeded in achieving the required reactivity and selectivity by using tailor-made rhodium and palladium complexes. The essential factor was the development of the proper set of chiral ligands surrounding the metal atom to steer the reaction in the desired direction.