Warren Cross

Warren Cross

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)
Chemistry and Forensic Science


Dr Cross teaches Organic Chemistry at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and leads a research group that focuses on the invention and development of sustainable synthetic chemistry. He is also International Coordinator for the Chemistry and Forensic Science team.

Career overview

  • 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

Research areas

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 to research, using organic and organometallic synthesis, DFT calculations and aspects of molecular recognition and self-assembly to establish sustainable technology for chemical synthesis.

Controlling C-H activation
Conventional approaches to synthesis use functional groups, either carbon-heteroatom bonds or carbon-carbon double bonds, to make the new bonds that are needed in a target molecule. However, chemists are beginning to use C-H bonds as functional groups by using metal catalysts to break C-H bonds in a process called C-H activation, which enables more direct synthetic routes with fewer synthetic steps.

The use of C-H activation presents a new and significant challenge: with so many C-H bonds, how can the regioselectivity of the C-H activation be controlled? Current methods rely upon either an ortho-directing group or upon the innate reactivity of the substrate with the catalyst – a process that is poorly understood. To realise the full potential of C-H functionalization reactions, the Cross group are exploring new and more sophisticated methods of regiocontrol using ambiphilic metal-ligand activation (AMLA) reactions. Research from Dr Cross’s group has demonstrated that ortho-selectivity can be overridden in naphthalene molecules containing an appropriate bidentate directing group. In addition, the group has shown that the regioselectivity of C-H activation without a directing group can be controlled by the choice of metal and ligand, including for the challenging activation of C(sp3)-H bonds.

Exploiting C-H activation
Methods that involve C-H activation are revolutionising organic synthesis because they enable efficient and direct strategies for the construction of target compounds. The Cross research group are exploiting C-H functionalization for the synthesis of organic materials and for the modification of biomolecules. Dr Cross is especially interested in establishing new collaborations in these areas.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil/PhD exist and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being conducted with the collaboration, funding and / or support of:

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.


Selected Publications

For full list click 'Go to Warren Cross's publications' link above.

See all of Warren Cross's publications...

Press expertise

  • Chemical synthesis
  • Catalysis
  • Organometallic chemistry
  • Computational chemistry