Philip L. Osburn, Associate Professor

Philip Osburn


Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany (2001-2002)
NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (Ph.D. in Chemistry, 2001)
University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, TN (B.S. in Chemistry, 1996)


CHEM 231/CHEM 232: Organic Chemistry 1 & 2
CHEM 230: Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry
CHEM 281: Intro to the Chemical Literature
CHEM 333: Advanced Organic Chemistry

SNC-Pd complex

Research Interests

SNC-Rh complex

A major focus of our research program is the development of new organometallic catalysts designed to exhibit a phenomenon called metal-ligand cooperativity (MLC). Specifically, my group has focused on the synthesis of new classes of organic molecules, pincer ligands, which display unique MLC effects upon binding to several catalytically important transition metals: palladium (shown far right), iridium, and rhodium (shown at right). These novel complexes are active catalysts in several key reactions used in fine chemical, pharmaceutical, and agrochemical production. Our current work in this area is directed at: (1) expanding the scope of catalytic applications using our complexes; (2) expanding the current ligand family by synthesizing derivatives with different metal-binding properties; and (3) investigation of the binding of the pincer ligands to other metals, specifically those metals which are cheaper and more readily available alternative catalysts (manganese, iron, and cobalt).

PEG-Rh complex

Another research focus in our group is the use of soluble polymers as tools in synthesis and catalysis. Such polymers have been used with much success as supports for a variety of chemistries. Their separation and recovery at the end of a homogeneous chemical process can be triggered by diverse means such as changes in temperature, pH, ionic strength, or solvent composition. Despite these advances, continued emphasis on the implementation of benign methods for facilitating chemical syntheses drives the need for discovery of new polymer supports, new separation strategies, and new applications for these tools. Thus, a second major thrust in our research is the development of new methods to implement the use of selectively soluble polymer-supported reagents and catalysts. This work involves a wide variety of polymers, supported reagents, and supported catalysts, both organocatalysts as well as transition metal complexes, like the PEG-supported rhodium catalyst shown at the left..


Recent Student Presentations
Relative Reactivity of a Series of SNC-Rh(I) and Ir(I) Pincer Complexes in Catalytic Transfer Hydrogenation and Arene Borylation Philip L. Osburn, Kelly N. Barko*; 253rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, San Francisco, CA, April 2017
Rhodium(I) Complexes of a Pincer Ligand Bearing Thioether and N-Heterocyclic Carbene Donors: Catalytic Activity in Transfer Hydrogenation Philip L. Osburn, Teresa A. Grimes*; 249th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Denver, CO, March 2015

Recent Publications
“Transfer hydrogenation catalyzed by Rh(I) complexes of a new charge-switchable thioether/NHC pincer ligand”, Osburn, P. L., Cronk, H. L.; Grimes, T. A.; Barko, K. N. Organometalllics, 2018, in preparation
“The use of an isotactic-propylene/hexene copolymer as a new, versatile, soluble support”, Hicks, A.; Lin, B.; Osburn, P. L.; Hobbs, C. E. Polym. Chem. 2014, 52, 600.
“Polyisobutylene-supported bidentate triazole–NHC–palladium complex as a recyclable catalyst for the Heck reaction”, Osburn, P. L.; Kaldon, L. G.; Su, H.-L.; Bergbreiter, D. E. Polymer Preprints, 2012, 53(1), 713

Service Activities

Organic Chemistry curriculum development
COST PEG Committee