Professor of Chemistry
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Chemistry
402 Latimer Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1460
Catalytic Science 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.
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
repeatedly to other p-ligands, such as cyclopentadienyl itself.
In this way, a number of
potentially catalytic and conducting oligocyclopentadienylmetals
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
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
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.