Department of Chemistry
Maurice Brookhart

Maurice Brookhart

Professor of Chemistry
919-962-2388 (fax)
Kenan A404


Not Accepting Doctoral Students

Research Interests

Synthetic Organometallic Chemistry, Catalysis

Professional Background

B.A., Johns Hopkins University (1964); Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (1968); NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship, Southampton, England (1968-69); Visiting professorships: Wisconsin (1974), Rennes (1981,1987), Oxford (1982-83), Bordeaux (1989), Toulouse (1989), U.C. Berkeley (1996), Seville (1997), Marburg (2001), MPI Muelheim (2003);Associate Editor, Organometallics, January (1990-1996); ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (1992); North Carolina Section ACS Distinguished Speaker Award (1992); ACS A. C. Cope Scholar Award (1994); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship (1995); American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, (1996); Medicinal Chemistry Study Section, DRG, NIH (1997-2001); ACS Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science and Engineering with L. K. Johnson (1998); Charles H. Stone Award (Piedmont Section, ACS) (1998); Royal Society of Chemistry Centenary Lecturer (2000); Honorary Doctorate, University of Rennes, France (2000); Member of National Academy of Sciences (2001); ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry (2003); North Carolina Award in Science (2008), Willard Gibbs Medal (2010); Current Editorial Advisory Boards: Organic Letters, Journal of Polymer Science, Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis

Research Synopsis

The Brookhart group carries out research in the general area of synthetic and mechanistic organometallic chemistry with particular emphasis on the application of organometallic complexes in catalysis. One major thrust is the development of late transition metal complexes (Ni, Pd, Fe, Co) for olefin polymerization. These non-traditional catalysts allow synthesis of polymers with unique microstructures, such as hyperbranched polyethylene and chain-straightened poly (I±-olefins). The functional group tolerance of these late transition metal systems allows copolymerization of monomers such as methyl acrylate with nonploar monomers such as ethylene and propylene. Mechanistic probes of these reactions employ primarily low temperature IR and NMR spectroscopies and provide a detailed understanding of catalyst resting states and reactive intermediates.

A second major focus concerns fundamental studies of C-H and C-C bond activations by transition metal complexes and the incorporation of these bond activation steps into catalytic cycles. Co, Rh, and Ru complexes have been developed which catalyze the ortho-alkylation of aromatic ketones, alkyl aldehyde isomerization, hydroacylation, and the dehydrogenation of alkoxy silanes to generalte silyl enol ethers. In collaboration with Alan Goldman (Rutgers) iridium catalysts have been developed for alkane dehydrogenation, alkane methathesis and conversions of linear alkanes to aromatics.


Joseph DeSimone, Ed Samulski, Joe Templeton


NSF Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis