Dr Cross leads a research group that focuses on the invention and development of sustainable synthetic chemistry and teaches Organic Chemistry at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
- Senior Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, Nottingham Trent University, 2013-present
- Lecturer in Organic Chemistry, University of Leicester, 2007-2013
- Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Nottingham, 2006-7
- Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Nottingham, 2003-6
- PhD, University College London, 1999-2003
Dr Cross's research group focuses on the invention and development of new methods for organic synthesis, with particular emphasis on metal-catalysed C-H functionalization reactions. His group adopts a multi-disciplinary approach that includes both experimental and computational organic / organometallic chemistry to establish sustainable technology for chemical synthesis. A new focus of the group is using innovative chemical synthesis to tackle biological challenges.
Controlling C-H activation
Conventional approaches to synthesis use functional groups, either carbon-heteroatom bonds or carbon-carbon multiple bonds, to construct target molecules. In contrast, new methods that use carbon-hydrogen bonds as functional groups - in a process called C-H activation - enable more direct synthetic routes with fewer synthetic steps. The use of C-H activation, however, presents a new and significant challenge: with so many C-H bonds, how can the selectivity of the C-H activation be controlled? To realise the full potential of C-H functionalization reactions, the Cross group are exploring sophisticated methods for the control of site-selectivity in metal catalysed C-H activation.
Exploiting C-H functionalization in new synthetic strategies
In addition to increasing synthetic efficiency, C-H functionalization also enables new synthetic strategies. The Cross research group has developed methods for post-synthetic peptide modification using C-H functionalization; they are pursuing applications of this new technology in understanding biological mechanism, the diagnosis of disease and in drug discovery.
Opportunities exist to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website https://www.ntu.ac.uk/research/research-degrees-at-ntu
Sponsors and collaborators
Current and recent research is being conducted with the collaboration, funding and / or support of:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- EPSRC UK National Service for Computational Chemistry Software
- The Leverhulme Trust.
Recent research funding includes:
- Exploring a 1,2-addition mechanism for catalytic C-H activation EPSRC EP/H028323/1 (2010-2011), £100,346
- A catalytic functionalisation of alkanes, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship ECF/40180 (2006-2008), £48,753.
Active collaborations involve research groups at NTU and at the University of Leicester.
- Postsynthetic Modification of Phenylalanine Containing Peptides by C–H Functionalization. Terrey, M. J.; Perry, C. C.; Cross, W. B.Organic Letters, 2019, 21 (1), 104-108 DOI: 10.1021/acs.orglett.8b03536.
- Ligand and Solvent Control of Selectivity in the C–H Activation of a Pyridylimine-Substituted 1-Naphthalene; a Combined Synthetic and Computational Study. Simayi, R.; Gillbard, S. M.; Cross, W. B.; Hope, E. G.; Singh, K.; Solan, G. A. Dalton Trans. 2018, 47 (33), 11680–11690 DOI: 10.1039/C8DT02565G.
- C(sp3)–H activation without a directing group: regioselective synthesis of N-Ylide or N-heterocyclic carbene complexes controlled by the choice of metal and ligand. Cross, W. B.; Razak, S.; Singh, K.; Warner, A. J. Chem.-Eur. J. 2014, 20 (41), 13203–13209 DOI: 10.1002/chem.201403860.
- Combined experimental and computational investigations of rhodium- and ruthenium-catalyzed C–H functionalization of pyrazoles with alkynes. Algarra, A. G.; Cross, W. B.; Davies, D. L.; Khamker, Q.; Macgregor, S. A.; Mcmullin, C. L.; Singh, K. J. Org. Chem. 2014, 79 (5), 1954–1970 DOI: 10.1021/jo402592z.
- From discrete monomeric complexes to hydrogen-bonded dimeric assemblies based on sterically encumbered square planar palladium(ii) ONN-pincers. Adeyi, O.; Cross, W. B.; Forrest, G.; Godfrey, L.; Hope, E. G.; McLeod, A.; Singh, A.; Singh, K.; Solan, G. A.; Wang, Y.; Wright, L. A. Dalton Trans. 2013, 42 (21), 7710–7723 DOI: 10.1039/c3dt50176k.
- N,N-Chelate-control on the regioselectivity in acetate-assisted C-H activation. Cross, W. B.; Hope, E. G.; Lin, Y.-H.; Macgregor, S. A.; Singh, K.; Solan, G. A.; Yahya, N. Chem. Commun. 2013, 49 (19), 1918–1920 DOI: 10.1039/c3cc38697j.
- Variable coordination of amine functionalised N-heterocyclic carbene ligands to Ru, Rh and Ir: C-H and N-H activation and catalytic transfer hydrogenation. Cross, W. B.; Daly, C. G.; Boutadla, Y.; Singh, K. Dalton Trans. 2011, 40 (38), 9722–9730 DOI: 10.1039/c1dt10753d.
- N-heterocyclic carbene tethered amido complexes of palladium and platinum. Cross, W. B.; Daly, C. G.; Ackerman, R. L.; George, I. R.; Singh, K. Dalton Trans. 2011, 40 (2), 495–505 DOI: 10.1039/c0dt01149e.
- Chemical synthesis
- Organometallic chemistry
- Computational chemistry